Mahatma Gandhi was convinced that the development of the country lay in the development of the villages and the priority in village development was to improve the health condition of the rural communities through simple natural practices. This concern led him to establish the naturopathy centre in the backward village of Urulikanchan near Pune, in 1946. The Community health Programme of BAIF has its roots in this historical context. Based on the realisation that poor health is an important cause of poverty, BAIF has integrated various health care interventions with livelihood programmes.
Our Mission towards Sustainable Development Goals
BAIF has been focussing on livelihood, literacy for women and children and improvement in health conditions, with special focus on problems of the rural community. Our community health care programmes address Preventive Health Care, Food and Nutritional Security, Women Empowerment, Maternal Health Care and Reduction in Child Mortality which contribute to Sustainable Development
The following approaches have been adopted for promoting community health.
Awareness campaign: Creating awareness among community members through meetings, demonstrations, display of posters and flipcharts, rallies, trainings and exposure visits with the active involvement of community leaders and schools.
Participatory development : Health interventions are made accessible, equitable and ethical by planning and implementing the programmes through active participation of People’s Organisations.
Linkages : Various health interventions are promoted by establishing linkages with the Government, Private and Non-Governmental Organisations in the project areas, thereby ensuring easy access to health services without duplication.
Development Research : Studies have been undertaken on the impact of initiatives such as promotion of herbal gardens, backyard nutrition gardens, development of drinking water resources, improvement in drainage and sanitation, recycling of bio-degradable wastes on improvement in micro-environment and health status of the community.
Community Health Initiatives
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH):
Activities like awareness on health, hygiene and sanitation, facilities for safe drinking water, garbage and waste water management and disposal, construction of low-cost bathrooms and introduction of clean home and clean village concept and awareness on COVID-19 have been initiated through a cadre of women community resource persons who function as local health facilitators and are selected from women self help groups in the project area.
Provision of safe drinking water: Tapping of ground water and natural springs, roof water harvesting, desilting of wells and ponds, chlorination, repair of damaged handpumps, safe handling and storage of drinking water at home level have also been undertaken. Various measures such as Ultrafiltration and RO plants have been introduced in communities and schools to ensure availability of potable drinking water.
Sanitation: Household hygiene is promoted through “clean home” activities such as promotion of improved toilets and sheltered bathrooms, smokeless cooking stoves, ventilators on walls, placement of glass tiles to improve the light and aeration within the house, kitchen gardens, construction of compost pits and vermicompost pits for recycling of garbage, disposal of domestic sewage water through soak pit or for use in kitchen garden. Awareness about the importance of washing hands, cutting nails, deworming and timely treatment of scabies are created among members of participant families and school children.
Combating Malnutrition: Malnutrition is a serious problem among tribals and weaker sections of the society, which is closely associated with poverty, absence of a nutritious diet, neglect of girl child, early marriage, under-nutritional status of pregnant women resulting in low birth weight of infants and undergrowth of adolescent girls. The following initiatives have been taken to address the problem:
- Establishment of kitchen garden to facilitate consumption of nutritious vegetables;
- Awareness on importance of locally grown non-commercial vegetables for nutritional security;
- Promotion of traditional cuisine corners “Nahari” to promote consumption of ethnic nutritious food;
- Developing and distributing a special feed mix, using locally grown foodgrains through women’s group for malnourished children, adolescent girls and women and establishing linkages with Government health services;
Alternative Health Therapies: Training of traditional health practitioners, both men and women to operate their charak centres in remote tribal hamlets, provide treatment through herbal medicines and Naturopathy and to grow medicinal herbs required by them have been some of the initiatives. Over 200 male and 200 female traditional health practitioners, who were trained at the Nature Cure Ashram at Urulikanchan, are providing health services in remote villages in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Documentation of locally available plants and their uses as food and medicine has been made and published for wider use by the local communities.
Enhancing Health and Educational Status of Women: Awareness and training on critical issues related to reproductive and child health, sanitation, hardship reduction and functional literacy are being organised at village and block levels as well as at the Community Health Research Centre (CHRC) at Urulikanchan. Community-based Health Insurance is also being promoted.
Health Awareness through Ashram Schools: Awareness on community health, hygiene, sanitation and nutrition for students and their parents has been undertaken through health camps and demonstrations.
Behaviour Change Communication: To ensure awareness and adoption of best practices in health and nutrition and to establish suitable linkages with the Government departments, health camps, campaigns, trainings and health education of the participant families, community based organizations and students are arranged.
Health status of the community has improved considerably.
Awareness about the medicinal value of indigenous plants has led to the cultivation of many of these species by the community.
Effective health care is being ensured through the Involvement of People’s Organisations particularly women groups in health awareness and hygiene, sanitation, preventive health care and regular follow up.
Clean surroundings has improved the quality of life of the rural families.
More than 100 schools in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Telangana are participating in the school-based programme for orientation and inculcation of good practices in hygiene and sanitation among school children.