My thoughts were engaged still with the people I have been meeting in rural Rajasthan. Children of Anganwadi Centres, youths being imparted training, women learning vocations skills and the simplicity of acceptance of being simple. We often feel that as these people belong to rural India, they may have deficiencies of skills and caliber. I feel they only lack the opportunities.
When you travel distance alone, the silence within makes you a thought leader.
My mind was thinking of basic facilities that these remote villages either have or thrive for. Health and medical attention are the primary ones, clubbed with safe drinking water and sanitation. It is easier for the villagers to reach out to city hospitals where the villages are located near towns but how are the health and medical related problems addressed in remote villages? I was sure, Government takes care of well being of the villagers at the remotest places, but what has been the role of private companies in enhancing these efforts, my question was direct.
Remote villages do suffer from most of the seasonal diseases like fever, throat infection, stomach infection, malaria, diarrhea, skin diseases and deficiencies of calcium / iron or may be other vitamins. Though these diseases may be seasonal but certainly cannot be ignored.
I do not recollect when I slept but I was awake with the first ray of sun. Women in villages get-up much early then us who live in big cities, may be I was also adapting to this culture.
I reached the house of Chanchal around 8 AM. She was waiting for me with few other women and I could see two of them were pregnant. I greeted them with a warm hug. Before I could speak to Chanchal about my queries, she informed me that there is a 3-day `Health & Medical Camp’ being organized in the village and today is the second day. All these women are going for the regular health & medical check-up and I can accompany them. My questions and queries were being addressed before I could ask.
Traveling a small distance, we all reached the `Medical & Health Camp’ organized for the villagers of nearby villages. I could see a huge number of people, from small children to old people, standing in the queue to meet their respective doctors.
The people did not seem to be suffering from any chronic disease and seemed like visiting for regular check-ups.
Chanchal took me to a lady doctor who was seeing children and women. I could see a broad refreshing smile on the doctor’s face, perhaps this is the satisfaction of working for these villagers who have very little resources. On enquiring, she told her name as Dr. Sonia Jain, a doctor employed in Hindustan Zinc. She is a regular visitor to these villages. I sat near her and waited for the right time to speak to her. Small children, women all were narrating their small & big health issues. The women who came along also showed her. In a temporary shed built separately within the shelter, Dr. Sonia did a thorough check-up of both these pregnant women. Everything was fine, the mother and the child were in good health. She prescribed some medicine and a lady sitting next to the doctor simultaneously handed over those medicines to these women. I realized, the medicine is being distributed free of cost.
Dr. Sonia started with the health & medical condition of these villagers. Referring to the women and children she said, `though in general the villagers are quite fine in health but as the season changes the typical diseases like fever, infections, skin problem, constant headache become prevalent. This is the time where the number of people coming for the check up also increases’. On regular basis Hindustan Zinc keeps organizing such camps for routine check-ups. But during seasonal variations, Hindustan Zinc increases the frequency of health camps. The villagers also visit Hindustan Zinc’s health posts for check-ups.
On my enquiring about the visit of external doctors, Dr. Sonia informed that doctors from Public Health Centre also visit regularly in such camps. We try to set-up these camps in as much deep rural areas where the villagers find difficulty to visit hospitals located in far cities. These camps are attended by villagers of other villages also, there is no restriction.
Who primarily organizes these camps? Whose responsibilities is it anyways? Dr. Sonia smiled, `why do we question everything, why can’t things be without any simple motive’. Government is doing its role but Hindustan Zinc is also a large corporate in Rajasthan. It is only human to look after the people residing near your business locations. Their health, sanitation, education, basic infrastructure are all necessities. The company in association with Rajasthan Government and also some time with Central Government and NGOs works towards achieving these common objectives.
Just when she was explaining, a small child came with his finger bleeding. ‘You don’t need to stand in the queue to get medical attention in such case’ she gently scolded the child. The child smiled, the pain was gone. A neat bandage dressing was given to the finger. She enquired from the accompanying mother about the child’s tetanus immunization. The mother nodded affirmative, the child has been vaccinated at regular intervals.
I wanted to meet the doctors attending the men of the villages. Chanchal took me to the other side of the camp where Dr. Surendra Srivastawa was looking after the male gentry of the villages. Dr. Srivastawa was an external doctor specially invited to attend this camp.
Most of them are suffering from mouth infection due to tobacco eating, said Dr. Srivastawa. Few had problem relating to eye infection. Chanchal told me that a dedicated effort is made to educate the male members in the villages about the ill effects of tobacco eating. Some have been eating for quite a long period that it is difficult for them to get rid of them now. But it is also true that the young population is quite aware and away from such addictions.
What happens when the case is serious and it is out of the purview of these doctors, I asked. `In such cases we refer them to the city hospitals. In the camps we are able to cater to their routine health problems but chronic cases need to be dealt at the city hospitals’, said Dr. Srivastawa.
I was also informed by villagers that specific camps like `eye care camps’, `family planning camps’, ‘cattle care camps’ are also organized to address the needs of the villages.
Identifying small concerns of these villagers and care is what is needed. More than anything it is the effort being made by Hindustan Zinc for the well being of these villagers and on the other side by the villagers who come forward and avail benefits out of these efforts is what makes the ultimate objective successful.
I had promised Chanchal that I would stay with her tonight. She promised to make makkai ke roti and raab with gud besides.
It was time to leave, but my journey will continue....