Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Health Intervention


Health of village people is poor. Chronic anaemia is very prevalent. People get joint pains by the age of forty. Menstrual complaints are common. A medicine system that incorporates local health traditions and Ayurveda is a viable and replicable model. 

Mainstream Healthcare Expenses
In recent years with the corporatization of health care, and with the weakening of government health systems, the health expenses under the default allopathic option have become high. Child and infant care  has also become very expensive. The medicines, tonics, travel costs and consultation can add upto Rs. 400/- for an infant fever and cold. A regular fever treatment course can cost Rs. 200/- to Rs. 500/-.  A trip for a checkup in Tirupathi can cost Rs. 2000/- and above. Many women above 30 years have had a hysterectomy done due to high bleeding. That has become a quick money making business for the local hospitals ! There are also local RMPs people go to for a cheap pain killer injection which gives very temporary relief. Also the people's own traditional wisdom is fast losing credibility among the new generation. 

Ayurveda
Ayurveda has a very close match with the local traditional systems. In the village people who have taken Ayurvedic  medicines have responded very well to them. Eashwaramma, our neighbour,  is a case in point. Her health had become very poor after a lifetime of undernutrition was followed by a series of personal tragedies. Our ayurvedic doctor in Chennai, Dr. P.L.T. Girija, began to treat her. Seeing her very significant improvement, people started looking at Ayurveda with interest. She has also been  using local herbs suggested by our ayurvedic doctor and has benefitted so much that the interests of others in their own herbs is rekindled.  

After milk and ashwagandhadhi was given to the children, along with another ayurvedic medicine to address their anaemia, the children improved most remarkably and quickly. Where neighbouring villages started looking here and asking for  the medicines being given here. Over time quite a few people have started coming for these medicines. And patients with more serious conditions like heart problems are choosing to come to Dr. Girija in Chennai for a through ayurvedic consultation. Each of them has benefitted substantially, and much over the earlier allopathic options they had tried.

Village Work
We are  focussing on ayurvedic medicines, and wherever possible on treatment using locally available herbs. Dr. Girija, with her vast experience, has helped to anchor this. Varalu whose faith was established after her own three children improved in health so much with ayurveda, has proved an able local doctor. She has got well trained and is able to handle  anaemia, fevers, diarrhoea, joint pains, menstrual complaints, piles etc. She also gets paid a sum towards this, which she needs as she is singly bringing up three children.

Given the dire situation in the drought, we are giving all the medicines free. But the costs of medicines is less than the costs the local people were earlier paying towards endless visits to the local allopathic doctors. As their health is getting built up, their illnesses are dropping substantially. This is particularly noticable in the case of children who are regularly on milk and ashwagandhahi and hence out of their state of malnourishment and consequent illnesses. So it is an economically viable alternative to the existing sstem of PHCs and private doctors.
This work has indicated a small set of affordable and desired medicines for such a community, which can be replicated.
  

Medicines
- Inexpensive churnams and gulikas, the more expensive ghee based medicines, tailams and arishtams are kept.

- Many conditions like fevers, coughs, diarrhoea and dysentery are addressed at expenses below Rs. 50 to Rs. 100/-. Child and infant treatment can be addressed very inexpensively.

- Given the poor diet, and a history of undernutrition,  the oil and ghee based medicines will also required in many cases. These would cost about Rs. 200/- a bottle, and two or three bottles may be required for chronic conditions of joint pains, anaemia and suchlike. In some cases longer term intervention would be required.

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