Written by Morgan Ducey
The Comprehensive Rural Health Project’s (CRHP) vision of health goes beyond the absence of disease; it includes social, economic, spiritual, physical, and mental well-being. The goal is to give everyone access to what CRHP sees as each person’s inherent right to health in all these areas, through empowerment of the poor and marginalized. As the link between primary care in Project Villages and secondary care at Julia Hospital, the Mobile Health Team promotes health, prevents illness, and refers complex patients to the hospital for quality care. Comprised of social workers, these men and women are passionate about their job in the villages and are driven to make a change.
Four to five times a week, the Mobile Health Team goes out to a Project Village, frequenting each individual village about once a month. While there, they check in with the Village Health Worker to gain an understanding of the condition and needs of the village and collect data about births, deaths, hospitalizations, known communicable diseases, and other vital statistics. Then, with the Village Health Worker, they consult with the villagers. The goal of the Mobile Health Team is to support the Village Health Worker in her work through hypertension screening, testing diabetics’ glucose levels, conducting prenatal exams, and checking in with community members who have been in the hospital or have had health concerns, reinforcing the messages the Village Health Worker has been giving her village.
Founded on the belief that health is more than the absence of disease, the Mobile Health Team does more than just screen for disease. They sit and talk, building relationships and trust among the community. Those who go out with the Team may at first be surprised to hear the men and women talking to the community members about the farms, the rain, their jobs, their families, the market, or the latest festival. Remembering that the Jamkhed Model includes all these aspects in their definition of health, one quickly realizes that this is a very effective way to promote health. The Team takes time to care about the people, hearing what their life situation may be currently and anything that could be preventing them from living happily and healthily. Health education is abundant, but never in a lecture type setting. Topics come up during conversation, whether it is how farming is going or how the family is doing, the Mobile Health Team members will intercede with education about improving one’s health. Last week, as one of the social workers asked a man about his family, the community member shared that his father had recently passed away from a stroke. After offering condolences and sympathy, the Mobile Health Team member took the opportunity to explain about hypertension, blood clots, genetic links in hypertension, and the importance of regular blood pressure checks for this man.
When not in the field, the mobile team stays busy with data collection and entry, community surveying and mapping, and preparing health education materials for the Village Health Workers. Once a week, the Mobile Health Team conducts Village Health Worker classes, giving these women the chance to continue to grow in their knowledge, confidence, and sense of empowerment. Currently, mental health and hypertension are new areas of focus for education, teaching, and implementation of treatment in the villages.
When talking to the Mobile Health Team, they tell of the rewarding nature of going to the people and hearing of their needs. “I have seen tremendous change in the villages during my time with the MHT. We used to see leprosy, TB, malaria, and scabies. Now, I haven’t seen a scabies case in the past 20 years. It’s all about the nutrition. There used to be no health knowledge, no sanitation, many superstitions, no toilets or even proper houses. Now that has changed.” – Mr. Pandit
I have had the privilege of participating first-hand in promoting health in Project Villages alongside the Mobile Health Team. As a Registered Nurse and Medical Volunteer at CRHP, I was thoroughly impressed by the Team’s knowledge, passion, and skills. I have learned the importance of understanding a person’s lifestyle, culture, beliefs, and values in order to promote health. Pleasantly surprised by the village members’ respect for and responsiveness to the Mobile Health Team, I could clearly see the immense change in health, health knowledge, and sanitation CRHP is making in these people’s lives. CRHP, through Village Health Workers and the Mobile Health Team, is not only eradicating and preventing disease, but they are also giving people a sense of self-worth. This empowerment allows community members to see the importance of health and taking care of oneself as well as their own ability to improve their lives.
For more information on volunteering at CRHP, please email email@example.com.