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Family Medicine & Medical Science Research

Author(s): De AM

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Abstract PIP: A summary is provided of some of the issues touched upon at the Village Health Workers (VHWs) Convention held in Bassi near Jaipur, India, in February/March, 1993. The convention was organized by the Rajasthan Voluntary Health Association in order to provide a forum to share experiences and to learn from others' successes and mistakes. The setting was a rural, isolated ashram in a supportive communal environment. Participation included 150 people of whom 37 were from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); others were community health workers (CHWs) and development workers. Topics of discussion centered on communalism, women and health, and traditional health systems and approaches. A movie was shown on the development of communalism in India, which clearly indicated that communal tension was a creation of political parties to meet their own ends. Participants desired to work toward communal harmony. The women and health discussion yielded some conclusions: 1) that married women should discuss their health with dais and CHWs. 2) Pregnant women need to be taught how to take personal care of themselves (their hygiene and use of medications). 3) Dais needed to know and practice the importance of deliveries in clean places, free of germs. 4) Regular training programs for CHWs were needed to learn more about immunizations, deliveries, sanitation, and water purification techniques. Another similar VHW convention was held for the first time in the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh and included 50 CHWs and 15 NGOs. Unlike the Bassi convention, there were few female participants (10 out of 50). Discussion focused on CHW problems, significant health issues, and communicating health messages. CHWs were successful in spreading education and health awareness through folk presentations, implementing income-generation schemes, facilitating villlagers' use of government resources, providing immunization and safe drinking water, and ensuring periodic training of CHWs. A concern was expressed for more conventions to be held at the district level for a longer period of time.
This article was published in Health Millions and referenced in Family Medicine & Medical Science Research

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