Rasool in Urdu means messenger. And, Rasoolpura has a message: keep me clean or your health is in peril. The danger of keeping a ghetto in the neighbourhood is its pernicious effects especially during monsoons. This area used to witness many health problems. But for the zealous efforts of some voluntary organisations, it would have gone mad.
One such NGO is the FPA, the Family Planning Association that has been striving for the betterment of mother and child healthcare in the slum. They have been an integral part of the slum for four years, cultivating awareness about nutrition and hygiene among pregnant women and their children.
FPA’s work coupled with its agenda of providing good health care have been lapped up by the underprivileged. Their biggest achievement perhaps is that they have nearly eradicated infant and maternal deaths in the slum. Venkataiah, a worker of the FPA says, “We have been making good progress. We focus on institutional deliveries and immunisation from polio, TB, measles, Hepatitis B, Tetanus etc.”
Such was the intensity of their campaign in the slum for the last four years that they have changed the mentality of the people in the slum. The NGO has also been disseminating awareness on serious issues like malnutrition and STDs. A seven member team works where the average pregnancy rate is 18 for every 1,000.
Venkataih says, “We have ensured that there are no more communicable diseases present in the slum, not counting the 25 HIV positive cases recorded in the entire slum. That apart, we have 20 Anganwadi centres that focus on child health and nutrition.” The Anganwadis are run by teachers who focus on the mother and child relationships during their first five years and ensure that correct nutrition reaches to them through the Integrated Child Development Scheme.
The current trend is to go in for a permanent fixture for birth control, like vasectomy and tubectomy. Shailaja, pregnant by seven months, is a regular at the FPA the health camp. She says, “We are very grateful for the NGO to have served us. We are not scared for the health of the child, considering the amount of care they take.”
The FPA also provides skill development programmes such as tailoring and detergent making for women. There are many challenges that they face but it does not deter them. As Venkataih says, “People think that just because it is monsoons and this is a slum, cholera, dengue or chikungunya are bound to break out. That is not always the case. One health problem that continues to bog us consistently is anaemia in children. They are not breastfed and are introduced to packaged foods very early. This causes a vital loss of nutrients. We hope to tackle this soon.”
In a slum where government health care has failed in meeting the needs of the people, this NGO with its seven-member team has been able to do a noble deed, bereft of all worthy praise, by conquering the hearts of the poor. Today the situation has vastly improved though it requires constant vigil.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Tea drinker, imaginary bass player, posterchor, left liberal world planner, star gazer.. and other significant things.