When a rural health centre works, it works wonders (Feature)

October 20th, 2011 - 11:59 am ICT by IANS  

Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh), Oct 20 (IANS) Village woman Lajja was blessed with her second child in the wee hours of the morning at Chharch. The baby was born at the health centre in her village and she feels relaxed, safe and at home. The centre is taking care of her treatment, food and medicine - for free.

It is being funded by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, government of Madhya Pradesh, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). This is unlike her first baby’s birth when she had to travel more than 35 km away from her home.

The centre was around at that time but was non-functional. Now it is revamped, expanded and provides 24×7 institutional care for pregnant women and infants. This has been possible due to funding from NRHM and support from Unicef.

It is helping save lives in an area that is 75 km away from the district headquarters and to reach which, one has to cross Kuna jungle. A well-built connecting road has helped. The centre makes an ambulance service available for pregnant women called Janani Express and serves as a vaccination centre for children. It is also the distribution point for vaccines for seven nearby centres.

Poonam, a seven-month-old girl, sits in her mother Jiyo’s lap in the covered lawns of the Chharch sub health centre. Jiyo carries her child’s immunisation card and waits for her turn to get Poonam vaccinated by an auxiliary nurse.

Poonam was born at a district hospital and was referred there by the Janani Express parked at the centre. Jiyo had problems in her delivery and thanks to the sub health centre and the availability of ambulance service in the remote area, she was taken to the district hospital. Jiyo thanks the staff at the centre and the facilities that helped her give birth.

Chharch village is in Pohri development block, 75 km away from the Shivpuri district headquarters. One has to travel through the Kuno jungle to reach this village. Though now it has a good connecting road to Shivpuri, it is still in the interiors and the nearest health centre is at Pohri, 35-40 km away.

Chharch used to be an old sub heath centre, but today it offers 24×7 services of institutional delivery for pregnant women. More than 500 safe deliveries have happened since its renovation in 2010. Two deliveries happened the day we visited. The sub health centre has had the Janani Express attached to the centre and is available 24×7.

Unicef provided not only financial but technical support to make this centre functional.

“It is a boon for our people,” quips a zila panchayat member.

Chharch has electricity problems, making things difficult for a vaccine storage unit. But now a solar refrigerator has been provided to the centre by Unicef. It also has solar lamps in case its services are needed at night and there is no electricity.

Unicef had provided 20 such solar refrigerators to the state which are being used in districts like Sehore, Shivpuri, Dewas, Barwani, Khargone, Jhabua, Bhind, Morena, Chhatarpur and Panna.

Chharch is proof of what wonders a fully functional rural health centre can do.

(Anil Gulati can be contacted at anilgulati5@gmail.com)

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