Visiting Comprehensive Rural Health Care Programs in India
In October of 2013, Cornelia joined Dr. Anu Anandaraja, and her Mt Sinai team of Dr. Anjali Gupta, and Renee Bishoff , on a trip to India. Dr. Anu is the Director of the Mount Sinai Global Health Training program and Pediatric Travel Medicine Clinic in New York City. She oversees training projects for Mount Sinai trainees and local healthcare workers in Mozambique and India. The Mt Sinai team was on a project planning trip, meeting with their local sites in and around Mumbai. Cornelia was along to learn from programs with a well established comprehensive rural health care system in place, to make valuable connections for the health care work in Lumbini, Nepal.
Prasad Chikitsa, Ganeshpuri
Our first stop was a day long drive north of Mumbai to the village of Ganeshpuri. PRASAD Chilitsa is a Pubic Charitable Trust, and a licensee of the PRASAD Project, an NGO initiated in 1994 by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path. The approach is holistic: " a unified system of sustainable, community-wide economic, educational, environmental, health and agricultural programs that respond to the needs, and to the conditions, customs and culture, of each community".
Both their medical as well as community development projects were efficient and impressive. Throughout the system staff were deeply connected to their work and held a high regard for community service. Medical programs serve the poor and needy in the Tansa Valley and include: general medical outpatient, eye surgery, HIV treatment, and reproductive and child health services. Their Mobile Hospital allows regular access to the more remote regions. As Dr. Anu has a longstanding relationship with the organization, we were welcomed with great kindness and hospitality. One of the highlights was a visit to one of their beautiful organic farming projects which help to educate and assist the farming community in maintaining sustainable year round crops. For more information, please visit: Prasad Chikitsa
Driving all night east across the Indian subcontinent, we arrived in the rural village of Jamkhed, the home of perhaps the pioneers of comprehensive rural health care. For over 40 years, the Comprehensive Rural Health Care Project has served the poor and marginalized communities around Jamkhed. One of the founders, Dr, Raj Arole grew nearby. He and his wife Mabelle, both highly skilled physicians, founded CRHP in 1970 and devoted their lives to bring healthcare to the 'poorest of the poor'. Their children Dr. Shobha Arole, and Mr. Ravi Arole are part of the senior team that carries on this legacy.
In their own words "CRHP works by mobilizing and building the capacity of communities to achieve access to comprehensive development and freedom from stigma, poverty and disease. Pioneering a comprehensive approach to primary community-based healthcare (also known as the Jamkhed Model), CRHP has been a leader in public health and development in rural communities in India and around the world." In essence, the CRHP approach utilizes health care as the vehicle for addressing the core issues of poverty.
For more on their incredible work and story: CRHP Jamkhed
The CRHP model utilizes a multi-level interconnected approach to health care which empowers local women, often illiterate and marginalized, to become village health workers. These VHWs are the cornerstone of this model and the first line of health care to their community. They are supported by a mobile health team and a hospital and training center. CRHP has trained many thousands of local and international healthcare professionals. Numerous universities send student groups annually for immersion training.
Below are some of the highlights of this first visit:
India to Nepal
In April of 2014, Cornelia was able to welcome Dr. Shobha Arole, CRHP Director, in Nepal. We initially met in Kathmandu with a team of young Nepali physicians who had just recently formed the Health Foundation Nepal (HFN) organization, and Venerable Metteyya from Lumbini. It was a thought-provoking meeting, filled with energetic exchange and enthusiasm. Dr. Shobha's willingness to share her knowledge and experience was a great benefit to all.
In the few days left in her holiday, Dr. Shobha agreed to accompany Cornelia and Venerable Metteyya to Lumbini. It was a very joyful visit as the path toward progress in comprehensive health care for Lumbini began to come to life.
The Next Step
Nepal to India
In July of 2014, Cornelia joined Anu, Anjali, and Renee once again for a visit to Jamkhed. The Mt Sinai team was in full program mode with 20 medical and MPH students on a training trip. This time Cornelia also invited Venerable Metteyya.
This was an incredible coming together of cultures and ideologies. As always there were unexpected happenings, environmental adjustments to be made, and travel fatigue. Even so this was a most memorable experience, and a lot of learning for all of us. Take a look:
We are extremely grateful for our growing web of interconnections, and look forward to much collaboration in the years to come.