When Essar Foundation launched its Community Health Project, Arogya (meaning ‘free of disease’), in 2007, it was primarily considering the inadequate infrastructure of primary healthcare centers. But it soon realized that the communities needed more than better infrastructure in healthcare. Essar Foundation then looked at ways to implement Arogya more creatively. The result has been an ongoing program for overall community healthcare services, with focus on maternal health and reducing child mortality; the program also targets some endemic diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.
Essar Foundation today provides quality medical services across villages in Lalpur and Khambhaliya blocks of Jamnagar District in ways that are sustainable. A mobile medical van, run by the Foundation and staffed by a doctor, a pharmacist and an attendant, criss-crosses the villages offering basic healthcare services; the Foundation also runs an ambulance, which remains on standby at the Jhankar panchayat office to meet emergency needs. The primary healthcare centers and the sub-centers see at least 100 patients every day.
Alongside, the Foundation also runs two block-level medical sub-centers— at Jakhar and Kajurda villages. It also supports services at Samarpan Hospital and Khambhaliya General Hospital for more critical care. The Foundation has also made provision for the services of a pediatrician at the Government Mother and Child Clinic in Vadinar. In addition, health camps are conducted periodically, addressing some of the most common health problems like diabetes, hypertension, eye problems, among others.
To ensure that care at the community level is sustained, the Foundation has also been working to improve basic awareness and knowledge about diseases, hygiene and healthcare. Apart from targeting focus groups such as pregnant women or women with infants, or people with specific ailments such as tuberculosis, the Foundation has undertaken general education about health issues at schools. Many of these awareness-building activities have been in partnership with government and non-government organisations.
The Foundation’s approach in implementing the Arogya program is to make sustained good health practices among community members; towards this, it focuses on —
- Serving the local community including poorest of the poor, round the clock service of Community Health Centre @ Jhakhar Village (CHC) and medical van with qualified MBBS doctors
- Establishment of CHC, Mother and Child Care Centre and Medical Health Van in partnership with District Health Department.
The Foundation’s efforts have won praise from local district, block and village health officers, who have recognised the valuable role of the Arogya Program in strengthening the state-run National Rural Health Mission. Towards this, it has also trained healthcare workers. The Arogya program also supports the initiatives under the government-run Integrated Child Development Services.