The Community Health program is a robust one covering a population of 20000 spread out in 320 hamlets. The personnel involved are the 16 health animators and over 200 health volunteers. The key aspects of the program are:

The Village Health Volunteer (HV) or Health Guide:

These are volunteers with leadership who have come forward to take responsibility for the health of the village. They are the first point of contact for the community.

They are given training in various aspects of health care at the village during the HA’s visit and at structured training sessions at the Area Centre and the Hospital.

Their chief functions include ensuring that pregnant women and post natal mothers receive care, growth of the under-five children are monitored, children with malnutrition are given supplements and are monitored, that all children are immunized, that patients with chronic illnesses are regular with medications, treat simple illnesses like fever and wounds and refer patients who are sick to the AC or GAH.

They play an important role in giving confidence to the community and they often accompany patients to GAH and also to tertiary care centres. They help to create awareness in the village and are key people for monitoring the health indicators.

The health animators:

Each Area Centre that covers approximately 20 to 50 hamlets, is manned by two HAs. They provide preventive and primary curative care. Their activities include:

  • Health education programs in the villages regarding diseases and their prevention.
  • Screening for TB and non communicable diseases.
  • Motivating those who need medical help to seek treatment.
  • Providing Ante-natal and post natal care including planned parenthood activities..
  • Monitoring children below five years of age for growth and providing interventions for those that have problems.
  • Implementing the Tb control program.
  • Detection and treatment of patients with Mental illness.
  • Monitoring of patients with Chronic illness and ensuring drug compliance.
  • Maintenance of registers.
  • HV training.
  • Communicating with ASHA workers and other government staff.
  • Treating simple illnesses in the out-patient clinic and referral of those with more severe problems.
  • Follow-up of patients discharged from hospital.

The HAs know all the people in the villages that they cover. This makes treatment appropriate for the needs of the patient. They form the back bone of the community health program.

The Area Centre:

Eight area centres have been set up to improve accessibility for the villagers. Each has its own building with minimal infrastructure facilities. The team members of sister organizations; Animators, Education and savings coordinators function out of the area centre. Each centre has one accountant and the most data is computerized at the area level.

  • The centres in Gudalur Taluk are Gudalur, Devala, Devarshola and Srimadurai
  • In Pandalur Taluk are Ponnani, Pattavayal, Erumad and Ayyankolly.

Special programs:

The key focus of the work is on maternal and child health. Other special programs include:

  • Sickle cell anaemia program- With Government TNHSP support, screening of the population under thirty years of age was completed.—- People from the tribal community and — from the Chetty and Baduga communities was done. — patients with the disease were detected and are on a treatment program using protocols. Approximately 12% of the population are carriers of the disease. Counseling to help patients with the disease and for people detected t have the carrier state are ongoing activities. Treatment is offered at the hospital and the area centres. Morbidity and mortality from the disease has been significantly reduced.
  • RNTCP program- GAH is a microscopy and treatment centre and is equipped to screen patients for TB. Volunteers have been trained to be DOT providers and supervise treatment.TB continues to be a problem in the tribal community.
  • Mental health program- A community mental health program was started in 2005 in response to the increasing rates of suicides in the community. Training to detect patients with mental illness was given to the health volunteers and staff of ASHWINI including doctors. Patients that were picked up were given treatment close to home. The program has become a well established one with the support of The Tata Trusts and the formation of the Mental Health Team consisting of Dr Susmita, a psychiatrist, Sathya a counselor and others.
  • Nutrition intervention program- Malnutrition is on the increase in spite of improvement in the economic conditions of the people. This could be the result of the increasing alcohol abuse. Growth of all children under five is monitored and nutrition supplements with high calorie are provided to them. They are actively encouraged to access the Government ICDS centres.
  • Screening programs-