Sunday, November 29, 2015

Closed Doors

Some untold stories..
Some ignored realities...
A few dreams unrealized,
And some, yet undreamt.

Words unsaid.
Love unfelt.
Many lives, half lived.
And some, yet unlived....

This and so much more,
Behind those closed doors...
Only if, 
You could open that damn door...
I have waited on the side... 
for times unknown.

Co-written with Aakanksha Shah.
Photographed by: Aaknaksha Shah

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For a Healthier India

In recent UNICEF report, it has been found that India accounts for the highest number of deaths of children under-five years of age with 50% of such deaths caused mainly due to malnutrition. Another report published in 2014 informs that Malaria has killed about 1.2 lakh people out of over 6 crore cases recorded last year. It is also estimated that almost 5.5 lakh non-HIV positive people died of TB last year, making it one of the biggest killers. Over 70,000 women die in India every year due to complications related to childbirth.
You would have already guessed which group of people are faces to these numbers. Of course, the poor and the marginalised. Access to healthcare is a huge issue in India if one doesn't have either the money or adequate network. What can serve as a boon in such a situation is awareness of several government's initiatives in the country. 
However, the awareness of these programs are limited to the people of the sector, the medical professionals, government officials of these departments and health care workers. And it is to their discretion that they inform the patients to avail them. I would hope that they do. But the problem is, one would hesitate even to go to the hospital/health care centre if he/she doesn't know if he/she can pay for the services availed at all. And hence it becomes very important for people from marginalised sections to be aware. But how?
This is where, people who have access to internet (and hence easy access to the information on these programs) can bridge this gap. Let us educate ourselves first. I am highlighting some of the very useful schemes from the Govt. of India for health care. Read on:

  • Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana राजीव गांधी जीवनदायी आरोग्य योजना (RGJAY) is a scheme from Govt of Maharashtra to improve access of Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families (excluding White Card Holders as defined by Civil Supplies Department) to quality medical care for identified speciality services requiring hospitalization for surgeries and therapies or consultations through an identified Network of health care providers.
  • The scheme has been implemented throughout the state of Maharashtra. The insurance policy/coverage under the RGJAY can be availed by eligible beneficiary families residing in all the 35 districts of Maharashtra.The scheme entails around 971 surgeries/therapies/procedures along with 121 follow up packages in 30 identified specialized categories such as general surgery, ENT, paediatric, cardiology, other infectious diseases. To get a complete list and details of the program, click hereमराठी में जानकारी के लिए यहाँ क्लिक करें। 
  • National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program covers diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, Filaria, Kala-Azar and Chikungunya. Guidelines and other details are provided hereवेबसाइट पर अन्य भारतीय भाषाओं में भी जानकारी उपलब्ध है। 
  • Revised National Tuberculosis control Program provides a holistic care for TB. The entire country is covered under Directly Observed Treatment, Short-course (DOTS) in March, 2006. To read about the details, click here 
  • Janani Suraksha Yojana is a safe motherhood intervention. The scheme is under implementation in all states and Union Territories (UTs), with a special focus on Low Performing States (LPS). To know more about it, click here. State-wise information can be found here.
  • Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram was launched in 2011. The free entitlement under this scheme are cashless delivery, C-Section, drugs and consumables, diagnostics, diet during stay in the health institution, Free provision of blood, Exemption from user charges, transport from home to health institutions, transport between facilities in case of referral and  drop back from Institutions to home after 48hrs stay. The Free Entitlements for Sick newborns till 30 days after birth (which has now been expanded to cover sick infants) are free treatment, drugs and consumables, diagnostics, provision of blood, exemption from user charges, transport from Home to Health Institutions, transport between facilities in case of referral and drop Back from Institutions to home. To know more and read the guidelines, click here.
  • National Nutritional Anaemia Prophylaxis Programme (NNAPP)Anaemia especially affect women in the reproductive age group and young children. The scheme beneficiaries are children in 1-5 years of age, pregnant and nursing mothers, female acceptor of terminal methods of family planning and IUDs. The programme is implemented through the Primary Health Centres and its sub-centres. Click here to read more.
  • Vitamin A Prophylaxis ProgrammeUnder the programme, children aged 6 months to 6 years were to be administered a mega dose of vitamin A at 6 monthly intervals. To read more click here or here.
Most of the above links provide the list of hospitals (if applicable), the states these schemes are implemented and guidelines for availing these benefits. 
This Diwali, let's go beyond the tokenism of Diwali bonuses and giveaways to our maids, house-helps, drivers and many people from low-income communities that we interact daily. Let's gift them life and healthcare. What can we do:
  1. Understand these programs properly, talk with them when they come home this week and empower them to seek for these programs when they or their family members are ill. If possible for you, go to the hospital for the first visit. That will help them to be more comfortable asking for these schemes.
  2. If we want to do more, we can run awareness campaigns in our housing societies for all maids/drivers/helps and ask them to further spread the awareness. 
  3. Share this blog and other related information on your facebook/twitter/other social media sites.
  4. If you work in a low-income school/community, share this with parents/children.
  5. Bookmark this article for later use.
And let's not do it because it's charitable. But because one, it is our responsibility as we are sitting on the privilege of knowledge. Two, if they are healthy and safe, your daily work is not affected. And three, if they know most of these expenses are taken care of, the burden on you to support financially whenever such crisis arises is lifted off from you. 
This Diwali, let's make India healthier. 

P.S. - If you know any other such programs/schemes from government or private institutions/hospitals, please share in the comments section.