Jan Swasthya Sahyog (JSS) is a voluntary, non-profit, registered society of health professionals running a low-cost, effective, health program providing both preventive and curative services for the past 15 years to people from the tribal and rural areas of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh through a community health program and a rural health centre, which includes a hospital. The team at Jan Swasthya Sahyog includes specialists in Medicine, Paediatrics, Public health, Gynaecology, Surgery, ENT, Ayurvedic Medicine and Microbiology. Many members of the team were trained at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.
The situation as we see it
The health of people in rural India is in a precarious situation. The traditional systems of medicine are in decline due to different economic and cultural reasons. But modern medicine as it is being practiced is not meeting the health needs of the rural population, especially those from the economically and socially backwards sections. This is largely because of high cost and inaccessibility of services. The high cost of this kind of health care, as well as the loss of wages during the period of illness pushes these people into a grim cycle of debt, bondage, and deepening poverty.
The grim situation that has been prevailing for a number of years has worsened with the new economic policies being followed by the government. While the rural population has always received less than its fair share of resources (including health care), the new economic policies envisage a further decrease in these resources. These policies include the privatisation of drugs and medicines, which ultimately result in pushing health care out of the reach of poor people.
Physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor.
We feel a need for a low-cost, effective, community based health care system which is readily accessible to the rural poor.
What we are doing
Ganiyari Outpatient Clinic
Since 2000, JSS has run a Referral Health Centre between the villages of Ganiyari and Beltukri in Takhatpur block. The centre houses an outpatient clinic with a low-cost pharmacy, diagnostic laboratory and X-ray and ultrasound facilities. We also have a Ward with 70 beds and 2 major and 1 minor Operation Theatres where high-quality surgical services have been provided till present date to more than 18,000 patients at a very low cost. The clinic has provided over 500,000 consultations at an extremely low cost to patients drawn from nearly 2000 villages of Bilaspur and other neighbouring districts.
Rural Outreach Clinics
Every week, we run three outreach clinics with a full team of doctors, laboratory and pharmacy staff in three different sub-centres located up to 60 km away from Ganiyari. Catering to isolated forest and forest-fringe villages, our clinics serve many people belonging to the Baiga tribe, a marginalized group often left out of modern services. Our sub-centre clinics retain many of the laboratory testing capabilities and medications available through the referral hospital. At the sub-centres, individuals can access both acute and chronic care for a number of conditions and, if necessary, be referred to the hospital at Ganiyari for a higher level of medical care.
Village Health Program
Since the organisation’s inception, JSS has also been running a Village Health Programme, which provides preventive and curative services with the help of 110 village health workers (VHWs) in 54 tribal and forest-related villages of Kota and Lormi blocks of Bilaspur district. Selected by their respective villages, the VHWs are regularly trained at JSS in preventative and curative services for conditions including diarrhea, upper respiratory tract and ear infections, pneumonia, skin infections, and malaria. In addition, VHWs are involved in community-based initiatives targeting undernutrition, malaria, and tuberculosis. They serve as key actors in the surveillance and control of such diseases.
JSS undertakes a variety of other activities, including village Phulwari: Rural creches; the development of low-cost medical technology, technical training and resource activities; field, laboratory, and clinic based investigations into tuberculosis, malaria, childhood pneumonia, and diarrhoea; and the promotion of organic and sustainable methods of agriculture. While providing complex care to patients of all ages with a broad diversity of medical and surgical problems, we at JSS strive to situate each patient in the broader social context of the marginalized tribal region of Chhattisgarh we serve. Through our innovative clinical care model, research, and advocacy work, we hope to show that low-cost, high quality community-based health care systems are possible even in the most resource-poor settings.