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Awareness Building

Awareness programmes are conducted to strengthen CBOs and familiarise the general public on health-related topics like immunisation, communicable diseases, good nutrition, reproductive health, women’s health issues and the ills of early marriages and pregnancies.

In RDT’s early years in Ananthapuram, the endemic health issues were gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, severe under/malnutrition, gross anaemia (particularly in women) and poorly-managed deliveries. These were all tied in with poor hygiene, low nutritional awareness and misconceptions about reproductive health. So, RDT’s initial on-ground efforts were directed at undoing wrong beliefs and superstitions passed through generations. Poor nutrition was a problem immense enough to warrant a separate programme. Some of the other areas in which the awareness programme tackled ignorance and misconceptions were:

“These workshops are a good way to let people come forward and discuss their problem to receive expert opinion.”
Moncho Ferrer,
Programme Director

Pregnancy Care

Today, heightened awareness about the reproductive healthcare practices has resulted in the reduction of infant mortality rate. Years of awareness and family planning counselling have promoted institutional deliveries in order to ensure safe, aseptic deliveries with qualified care on hand in case of complications. More number of women are now aware of the importance of antenatal check-ups to monitor theirs as well as their baby’s health status.

Future mothers are given information about baby’s hygiene, diet, care and the importance of breast-feeding in the first six months. They also undergo a medical examination, generally a haemoglobin test to detect any possible cases of anaemia which can complicate the pregnancy or delivery.

Adolescent Girls’ health

Anaemia is a serious problem among females in Ananthapuram district with rates as high as 62%. Workshops and counselling sessions are held specifically targeting adolescent girls and young women on anaemia. These workshops are also treated as an opportunity to counsel girls on personal hygiene, healthy dietary practices, the importance of education and the implications of early and consanguineous marriage. Sensitive issues like menstrual periods, changes during adolescence, the causes and prevention of anaemia, HIV/AIDS, and unwanted pregnancies are also discussed. Adolescent Girls’ Anaemia Camps are also held regularly, where girls diagnosed with haemoglobin levels of less than 8 to 10 are identified and given iron and folic acid tablets.

General & Communicable Disease awareness

Illiteracy, reluctance to discuss health (esp. hygiene, STDs, how disease spreads, reproductive health, and mother and child health) is in large part the reason behind poor health awareness and lack of knowledge of preventive health measures. RDT covers general health awareness regarding basic ailments and treatment thereof through Allopathy or through alternate medicine systems like Homeopathy and Unan

Chief among its facilities, is RDT’s HIV care and support centre located at its Bathalapalli hospital. Aside from extensive medical support, it also provides nutritional support to HIV patients and their families via nutritional packages for each family that include rice, dal, wheat, ragi, edible oil and sunflower seeds. In addition, there are 13 Sanghams (collectives) comprising

of 175 HIV-positive widows as its members. These Sanghams assist members with loans for livelihood, counselling, home care, children’s education among other things. The state government also runs targeted programmes like Anthyodaya- a ration scheme that gives out 35 kilos of rice to HIV/AIDS patients, the destitute and PWDs. It also runs anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centres, and infected widows of AIDS patients receive bus passes in order to get to the centres to collect their medicines.

Over the years, a large number of people have attended RDT workshops and camps conducted to provide awareness on HIV/AIDS. Besides providing them with the causes and preventive measures of the disease, and the motivational support to deal with it, they have contributed greatly towards the reduction of vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child to just 3%, the lowest in Andhra Pradesh. In the cases of an HIV positive delivery, medical services proved to be effective in an HIV free upbringing.

HIGHLIGHTS
 
STAFF SPEAK
 

I have been associated with RDT for the past five years conducting trainings and workshops which are especially focussed on adolescent girls. We decided to start these workshops when we realised that there is a huge lack of awareness amongst young people about adolescent and reproductive health issues which can prove to be dangerous for them in future. My team members and I have noticed significant changes in the awareness levels of the participants and now they are much more conscious about their health.

Syamala Dayanidhi, , Health Organizer

SUCCESS STORY
 

I belong to the Dalit community and had to drop my education after primary level, partly due to lack of support from my parents, and partly because of ill health.

My parents are old and unable to work. Being grossly anaemic, I was completely dependent on my mother for daily routines like bathing and eating. I was unable to take any kind of employment as I couldn’t walk more than a few steps or hold something even for a while. My brother considered me to be a burden on the family and never took me to a doctor. Situations worsened when my father passed away and my mother had to borrow money from relatives as she wasn’t able to go for labour work because of my condition.

We left our brother’s home and returned to our home where colony members extended both moral and material support to us. RDT also came to our rescue and provided us with ration, nutritional support and pension to my mother.

A life changing moment occurred when RDT conducted a health workshop especially for adolescent girls. A blood test was conducted in which gross anaemia was diagnosed and I was immediately admitted to RDT hospital, Bathalapalli, where regular blood transfusions were undertaken and medicines were provided.

Continuous monitoring and motivation by the health organizer improved my haemoglobin reach a normal level of 12.9 g/dL. Now I help my mother with the household work and also earn a decent living. I am really thankful to RDT and our community families who supported us during our tough time and strongly believe that RDT should continue conducting more workshops where adolescent girls can share their health problems.

Ramadevi, Marthadu village, Mudigubba Mandal

“Continuous monitoring and motivation by the health organizer improved my haemoglobin reach a normal level of 12.9.”

PARADIGM SHIFT
 

When the people know about the cause and effect, they are generally more empathetic towards the affected. The stigma attached to a disease is by far removed and the room for superstition is shrinking day by day.

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