Health Care

Early on BCT found that the twin evils that continue to plague the rural poor are ignorance and ill health. The first was addressed by organising programmes that emphasised education and training. To tackle the latter, BCT established the Grama Arogyalayam Trust in 1985 to deal with health education as well as treatment of illness. One of the earliest steps taken by BCT’s staff was the training of illiterate women to be health workers. These women were given basic training in health and hygiene using an innovative training method consisting of flashcards and practical demonstration.

Simultaneously, traditional midwives in each village were also given training in modern midwifery to enable them to conduct normal deliveries in a hygienic and safe manner.
With the health initiatives by the State Government increased with the emergency services as well as appointing nurses and incentivising institutional deliveries, BCT has begun to focus again on the preventive care especially school children. The current program is the 12 x 12 initiative. This initiative is directed at ensuring that every adolescent child by the age of 12 years has a Hb% level of 12gm was started on 23 February 2010 at Residential Model High School.

The children both girls and boys belonging to classes VIth to X ages between 10 to 16 years were subjected to a Hb% test, height and weight were measured and other particulars regarding nutrition, alertness, performance in class, sports activity and other extra curricular activities were recorded.
Weekly iron tablets (Livogen) containing 50 gms of essential iron were given every Tuesday (IRONDAY) under supervision. Deworming was done every 6months with Albendagole 400mg.

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Health awareness in the form of weekly classes on personal hygiene, hand washing, first aid and nutrition were taken and stressed.

The Hb%, Wt, Ht, performance were recorded after 6 months of initiation of treatment and the findings recorded. An analysis of the findings is given below.

A total 120 school children between the age 10 to 16 years and belonging to classes VIth to Xth were enclosed the programme.

Table 1: Distribution of children according to sex.

Class
Girls
Boys
VI
17
14
VII
12
12
VIII
12
18
IX
6
8
X
13
9
Total
60
61

Table 2:

11 Years
12 Years
13 Years
14 Years
15 Years
16 Years
16+ Years
17
30
22
20
19
12
1

89 Children were below 14 years of age; 32 children were below 15 and 16 years of age.
Out of the 121 children, 99 children completed 6 months of weekly iron use and 22 children belonging to the Xth Std who, appeared for the public exam in April left the school in May after completing 3 months of the programme.
These 22 children’s did very well in their Xth exams and came out in flying colour, 3 of then having secured the first these ranks in the mandal.

Table 3:

graph
Weight gained by the children between VIth to IXth Std. was a minimum of 2kg and height increase was an average of 2cm.The children took part in a 24 hours folk dance program in the month of July. They could complete the performance without any tiresomeness or testragy which reflects the strength of stamina of the children’s. Deworming has been done twice initially at the start of the project and after 6 months.The number of sick children attending the weekly OPD’s on Sunday or Tuesday has dwindled as the general health immunity of the children’ has improved.

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On the whole, it has been a satisfying experience, and this project will continue till 1 year is over, when the final out come of the weekly iron supplementation in adolescents can be studied in depth.