EMBODYING CARE

While the rise of HIV/AIDS and other global pandemics in India have drawn increasing international attention to health and health care challenges in resource-poor areas, in the remote villages in Northeast India it is often far more mundane and eminently treatable conditions that take the greatest toll on people’s daily lives. Malnutrition compounded by poor sanitation, environmental hazards, and back-breaking labour, place severe strain on the body’s physical resilience and mental wellbeing and leave people vulnerable to all manner of ailments. Government-run primary health centres in these areas are often not operable and people are forced to travel long distances to hospitals they cannot afford, turn to local quack doctors who exploit their desperation by prescribing wrong medicines or placebo treatment at inflated cost, or go without treatment altogether. When the health of the primary wage-earner is compromised, whole families are driven into deeper poverty. Forced to make difficult decisions constrained by their lack of resources and options, it is most often the women and children who go without care.

“It is health that is real wealth
and not pieces of silver and gold.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

At PIDT’s demonstration site in Lokshala, Jharkhand, where lack of access to any infrastructure was most acute, model alternative health care centres and services have been developed. In consonance with our missions, these services draw on local knowledge base and resources and remain in dynamic exchange with the people and the environment, encouraging preventive and home-based care whenever possible and constantly seeking innovative ways to meet needs with minimal external inputs. PIDT also works to affect the causal factors of ill health in the villages by introducing sustainable organic farming for local consumption, developing sanitation and water purification systems, and creating alternative work opportunities to stem migration, exploitation, and unemployment that increase exposure to multiple health risks. Back