Our vision at Jibhi CHAI has always been to be a seed of transformation by moving responsibility for health and community development to villagers themselves and simultaneously giving skills and vision to fulfill those responsibilities. The health workers we trained with help from My Himachal are now seeing patients in their villages which moves the programme into a new phase that makes those dreams seem attainable.
Since the graduation six weeks ago Jeph and Padam have visited all of our health workers in their villages (sometimes with Kantha and Kaaren). We have enjoyed exploring our own hills by bicycle, motorbike and on foot with a backpack of medicines and doing clinics in schools, houses, outside shops and even street corners. We also meet key people (e.g. school teachers, pradhans, anganwadi teachers.) Typically the health worker herself sees patients and Jeph reviews, helps and gives advice. Padam registers patients and runs the pharmacy. Registration (10 rupees/ patient) goes to the health worker while LWH takes the cost of the medicines. Now we have issued the medical kits (donated by NZ high commission, Delhi) health workers can dispense their own medicines. Running viable businesses as well as doing important health work makes it sustainable for them.
Village clinics give us an opportunity to better understand each health worker’s context and the major medical and other problems that they face and is an ideal context for one-to-one patient based teaching. For health workers it is an opportunity to practice medical skills in their own context and also to gain credibility by working alongside a doctor in front of their own villagers. Perhaps most important for all of us is relationship building that comes from sharing lunch after the clinic, meeting health workers’ families and staying in their houses. I have hugely enjoyed sharing meals and staying with high and low caste families. This week Tara, our health worker from the nearest village came with us to join the Sainj health workers at their clinic. Co-operation between health workers, especially cutting across caste, is hugely exciting to me. Other by products are identification of serious chronic patients and appropriate referral (some to Jibhi surgical camps), increased interaction with the public hospital, Banjaar (our health workers may even become government DOTS providers), and increased interaction between our team and local communities.
As well as village clinics we have a training day here in Jibhi once every two weeks to increase the skills of our workers and to share ideas and problems. Also every Saturday we have two or three women join us for our weekly OPD clinics. These are good opportunities for teaching but even more I like the non- medical time. Over tea, lunch and sometimes with health workers staying here we are building a two way relationship.
adam and I feel that we’ve taken another step along a journey. Not only are we now cycling and walking around our beautiful hills and eating fantastic local food with village women but also we are able to sit down at the end of our day and actually see increased skills and responsibility in local hands. There is a long way to go but the journey is fun!