Hosptials, clinics and medical camps are run by Ananda Marga in poor areas, both on a long-term or short-term basis, depending on the need. The Abha Seva Sadan Multitherapy Charitable Health Centre in Kashijharia village of Jharkhand, India, is one example:
The rural areas of Jharkhand state (formerly Bihar) in Northeastern India are among the poorest and most neglected parts of the country. The tribal inhabitants live in primitive conditions which have hardly improved in the last century. With few schools of poor quality, their illiteracy rate approaches 80 percent. They suffer from chronic malnutrition and infectious diseases. Primitive subsistence agriculture is the main employment available.
There is very poor health infrastructure in Kashijharia. Easily treatable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, leprosy, gastro-enteritis and malaria are widespread. Many women die during childbirth due to a complete lack of maternity services. Because of poor or inadequate training, village doctors often fail to recognize life-threatening complications. The nearest hospital is over 20 km away; it is private and much too expensive for the people to afford.
The Abha Seva Sadan Multitherapy Charitable Health Centre (ASSMCH) provides quality health care and health education to a rural population of around 50,000 that would otherwise have no access to adequate affordable medical facilities. Currently the clinic is based in a 6-room out-patient building with consultation rooms for acupuncture, allopathy and homeopathy. A phase-wise construction program will eventually give additional facilities: dressing/treatment room, pharmacy, stock room, registration room, waiting hall and accomodation for staff and volunteers.
Integrated Health Care
No single discipline of healing is appropriate for all persons and all ailments. Since May 2005 ASSMCH has been offering treatment in allopathy, acupuncture and homeopathy. More recently physiotherapy was added, helping to rehabilitate children suffering from cerebral palsy as well as many adults with arthritis and degenerative disease, with ayurveda and naturopathy planned for the near future. Herbs are grown in the grounds, with 70 herb varieties in the medicinal herb garden and 22 in the nutritional herbal garden. This holistic approach of combining conventional and alternative treatments allows the physicians and therapists to provide the most suitable care for each patient.
Grassroots Work in Villages
The vast majority of villagers suffer from chronic malnutrition, which contributes to their health problems. The ASSMCH mobile medical team visits surrounding villages on a weekly basis, giving treatment and raising the consciousness of the people about nutrition, hygiene and good health practices, which helps to break the vicious cycle of disease due to poor nutrition and unhealthy food habits.
The first village programmes were education on water hygiene, including the disinfection of all drinking water wells in the village. The current programs are focused on nutritional education, with the weekly screening of a nutritional education video (comedy drama) in the local dialect, teaching how to overcome vitamin deficiencies by consumption of the green leafy vegetables growing freely in their surroundings. Through drama the villagers can more readily accept and learn about preventive and curative health care for themselves and their families. The film is screened in a different village every week and so far over 60 villages have been covered. The response has been very encouraging.
Training of Healthcare Workers
Another aspect of our work is to train primary health care workers. This training of local men and women is called Community Medical Service, a global program of the World Health Organization. These village medical workers can then begin to earn a living and contribute to an effective health infrastructure in the region.
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