World Health Day 2017

As we celebrate World Health Day it is a good time to reflect on the contribution that Salt Of The Earth (SOTE) is making to the health of the rural poor in India.

Throughout its history SOTE has always been at the forefront of supporting a range of healthcare initiatives in rural India. One of our current partners CRUSADE runs health diagnostic camps aimed at identifying common health problems and then providing referral, treatment or counselling as appropriate. These services are available to over 7,000 women and their families who are members of over 400 self-help groups operating in different villages.

CRUSADE also operates a health education programme staffed by 10 trained health workers that is available to the self-help groups. This education programme particularly focusses on areas of general health, hygiene and nutrition. The women also receive training in the identification, growing and preparation of traditional herbal medicines with a known efficacy for the treatment of minor ailments.

One of the main focusses of the diagnostic camps that are run by CRUSADE in the project villages is the early identification and treatment of patients with diabetes and hypertension. Sadly, India is experiencing an exponential rise in chronic disease particularly in hypertension and diabetes. Indeed, over the last 15 years India has seen a staggering 100% increase in diabetes and alarmingly a 50% rise in the death rate from diabetes in the last 10 years.

The vital work undertaken by CRUSADE supported by SOTE will increase knowledge not only about health, self-help and nutrition, but crucially help ensure that more rural communities have access to the proper diagnosis and treatment of hypertension and diabetes.

It is interesting to note that the main health theme for World Health Day this year is depression. Patients suffering from diabetes are three to four times more likely to suffer from debilitating depression. In India depression is very much on the increase and markedly so amongst the rural poor.  The suicide rate amongst rural farmers is tragically 47% higher than the national average. Surveys of older members of rural communities also show that around 20% are suffering from either moderate or severe depression.

All this serves to underline the need for SOTE to continue to raise funding to help projects that address the health needs of some of the poorest communities in India. We are already fundraising for additional initiatives that will provide 50 Health Screening Camps for diabetes and hypertension and 24 camps for the diagnosis of eye problems and cancer.  Plans are also being drawn up to run a pilot scheme for the diagnosis and treatment of anaemia in young women – so watch this space.

Written by Simon Fielding, a Trustee of Salt of the Earth. 

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