Friday, October 9, 2009

Community Health

The parking lot outside of Christian Medical College Hospital becomes an overflowing waiting area as people wait to be seen by a doctor.

While visiting the Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in Vellore, India, I experienced many amazing things. The enormous numbers of people arriving daily for treatment and care, or to visit a relative by every conveyance possible was truly amazing. Standing in front of the emergency room entrance I was amazed at how orderly and peaceful it was as people waiting to be seen somehow knew where to go and what to do.

Over 5,000 people a day are seen at this facility. CMC Hospital serves as the base for an extensive outreach program that takes medicine to the people in over 300 local villages through a comprehensive program of community health education, prevention and treatment.

The philosophy behind the work of UMCOR Health is this same strategy. Education and prevention is much more efficient and effective than just letting nature take its course. UMCOR Health has embarked on a significant training program for community health workers and mid-wives to serve villages in Africa. Community health workers are recruited from their home villages, trained and re-trained to provide accurate public health knowledge, improve the immediate treatment of injuries, assist in the birthing process and recognize when a condition requires referral to a clinic or hospital. Community-based primary health care works.

Dr. Suranjan Bhattacharji,, the Director of the CMC Hospital, told this story of one way in which their community based primary health care system has enabled better treatment of patients in remote villages. The community health worker collects a specimen requiring laboratory analysis from a patient. The health worker gives it to a student trained to handle this responsibility who takes it with her to her school several kilometers away. She leaves it with the tea vendor outside the school. When the teachers break for tea, one who has come from the city picks up the specimen and carries it with him, dropping it off at the lab, when he returns to the city. The analysis is performed, the diagnosis made, a call is made to the community health worker, and medicine is sent by the reverse procedure, if necessary. In 24 hours, a patient in a remote village is ministered unto.

As UMCOR works in places near and far, new ways to serve those in need are being continuously discovered. God is sending United Methodists on an amazing journey as we learn new ways to help each other.

By the Rev. Sam Dixon, Deputy General Secretary, UMCOR

No comments:

Post a Comment