DCM Shriram Foundation has a holistic approach to healthcare. The ‘Mother & Child program’ has an overall objective to reduce the MMR and IMR in the adopted villages of UP, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The Company has a cadre of Sehat Saathi’s - Village Level Workers (VLWs) who are deployed in the adopted villages. These VLWs work in collaboration with ASHAs and ANMs and mobilize pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescents. The aim is to lower IMR and MMR through focus on immunization, combating malnutrition, menstrual health management and promoting institutional deliveries. Creating demand within the community for Govt. health services and strengthening the supply side of Govt. a health facility is the essence of the healthcare program.
For better community outreach, Mobile Medical Units (MMU) have been introduced across 45 Gram Panchayats covering Hariawan Block , 109 Gram Panchayats covering Pasgawan Block in UP and 122 Gram Panchayats covering Jhagadia Block in Gujarat. This MMU is equipped with all the latest medical facilities, it travels with a female gynaecologist, nurse, pharmacist, equipment for Ante/Post Natal check-ups and some tests which are being conducted for diagnosis of high risk pregnancies. The van is also equipped with audio-visual aids and short educational movies on healthcare which are aired while patients wait for their turn. With the provision of these vans, the rural women are now getting access to city-level health facilities.
Sapna is very grateful for these sessions and check-ups. At 28, she is pregnant for the third time. She can’t forget the first two difficult pregnancies. “I didn’t know about the right diet, the use of blood and BP tests, need for vitamins and calcium tablets,” she says.
According to Dr Rajeev Ranjan, who is working in the CHC of Hariawan, district Hardoi, “The women don’t come to the hospital for regular check-ups as they find it far from their homes. It is a rough road and they are subject to jerks during this delicate time. Now, with this MMU, the medical help is at their doorstep”
“Women here don’t understand the importance of blood tests, sonography. Most pregnancies are not the first time, so there is no concept of family planning as well. We offer them free calcium and iron medicines. We handhold these mothers right up to six months after childbirth. We even facilitate their smooth deliveries at the government hospitals; cite the benefits of institutional delivery. For post-natal care, we help with vaccination and also create awareness around infant nutrition and feeding,” says Dr Chandni Agnihotri, MMU medical officer.
Anuradha from Heerapur village, Uttar Pradesh, is a first-time mother-to-be and used to have low hemoglobin in the first trimester of her pregnancy. “The first three months of my pregnancy were difficult as I wasn’t aware about a nutrition-based diet. Now, I eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and grains. After following didi’s instructions, my hemoglobin is somewhere around 9 and I don’t feel dizzy anymore,” she says.
Kavita Verma from Hariawan district appeared for Class X board exams. She has been attending these menstrual talks regularly along with a group of young girls. “I got to learn about hygiene and cleanliness during periods. I can now make my own pads as didi taught us the techniques. First, we keep a layer of cotton and then layer it with a fabric, and it can be stitched. We have also learnt how to dispose it off in a pot that we usually decorate and paint so that it should not look dirty. The pads available in market are a bit expensive, this makes me feel confident. Now we don’t use any polyester fabrics for pads as those used to give us rashes. It used to be difficult as we could not share this problem with others and could never tell our parents that we needed medical help,” she says.
Khushboo sensitizes the community. She tells them about ‘rituchakra’ or the menstrual cycle. “The girls are shy and don’t even talk to their mothers about this initially. We guide them on adapting to their body’s hygiene and also how to take care of themselves during periods. We also guide them on the diet and remove the social stigma attached to menstruation,” she says.