The State of Rajasthan has diversified topography. The wide ranging topography includes rocky terrain, rolling sand dunes, wetlands, barren tracts, river drained plains, plateaus and ravines. The topographical features affect the economic, social and cultural life of its inhabitants. Due to these conditions the benefits of the Government health programmes cannot reach out to the people living in the far flung areas. The health indicators of the state are also not too satisfactory. The growth rate is 22 percent, the birth rate 29 per thousand, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) 67 and the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is 445. These figures are much higher when compared to the National figures.
Health Awareness Rallies or Swasthya Chetna Yatra and free medical camps were organized at the Gram Panchayat headquarters of the districts of Rajasthan from December 1st to 30th December. It was a campaign to spread awareness on health and hygiene among rural people and to benefit the far flung people by free medical camps. This campaign was organized through coordination between various departments like Health, Department of Women and Child Development, Department of Ayurveda, Panchayati Raj Department and Education Department.
During the course of the Health Awareness Rallies, awareness on nutrition, health, seasonal diseases, infectious diseases, immunization, benefits of small families, total sanitation campaign, Janini Suraksha Yojana, breast feeding and other health related issues was created using simple and locally adapted Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials.
For organizing these campaigns, different committees like implementation, monitoring and evaluation committees were formed at various levels. At the State level, Organising and Coordination Committees were formed in which the Chief Secretary and the Secretaries of the respective department were members. At the district level, the District Collector was given the whole sole responsibility of implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Under him a committee was formed which had the Additional Collector as the Nodal Officer and Chief Medical Officer(CMO) as the Secretary and its members were Chief Executive Officer (CEO), district level officials, members from Red Cross Society, FICCI members, Non Government Organizations (NGOs) and representatives from the media.
At the Panchayat level the District Collector made the Block Development Officer (BDO) responsible for the successful implementation of Health Awareness Rallies. The Block level officials were part of this committee.
For 9189 Gram Panchayats falling under the 237 Panchayat Committees of Rajasthan, 334 “Raths” (mobile carts or vehicles) were decorated. These “Raths” were well equipped with audio- visual devices and loud speakers. It was ensured that the Information Officer of the Panchayat Samiti, officials from the Health Department, Department of Women and Child Development and Folk Media team accompanied these “Raths”.
The inauguration of the Swasthya Chetana Yatra was done in each of the District Head Quarters (except Dungarpur District) on first December 2006 by the Honourable Minister of the State.
These “Rath’s” followed a route map; starting everyday at two p.m from one panchayat and reaching the other panchayat at four p.m. Through audio visual aids messages on various health aspects were disseminated. Prabhat Pheri, health quizzes and health related slogan writing by children were also a part of the rallies. Every day from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. medical camps were organized at Primary Health Centres or Sub Centres or Aganwadi Centres covering as large a population as possible.
i) 9205 camps organized during the Health Awareness Rallies.
ii) A total of 3105610 patients attended the camps, of which 1902598 patients were given allopathic treatment and 1203013 were given homeopathic treatment.
iii) 285282 patients underwent pathological tests.
iv) 13561 patients were referred.
v) 150197 children attended the health check up camps.
vi) 55205 BCG; 127213 DPT, OPV I, II & III vaccinations given to children in the age group of 0-1 years.
vii) 3871 measles vaccinations and 96692 children (0-5years) were given Vitamin A drops.
viii) 202074 women and pregnant women underwent check ups. 75714 pregnant ladies were registered, 5799189 women received iron folic tablets and 66600 pregnant women got tetanus injections.
ix) Under the Janini Suraksha Yojana 75873 women were registered and 63052 women received the benefits of the scheme.
x) 1058357 Birth and Death Registration Certificates were issued.
Wide coverage: The programme reached out to a large number of people throughout the State within a short span of time (one month).
Accessibility to health service: Outreach of health services to people living in far flung areas.
Inter-sectoral coordination: It demonstrated excellent inter-sectoral coordination between various departments.
Intensive use of IEC: The publicity of Health Awareness Rallies was done through television, doordarshan, cable operators, FM radio, hoardings and handouts. Even during the rallies all kinds of IEC was used.
Excellent Monitoring and Evaluation System: The three tier monitoring and evaluation system contributed to the success of the programme.
Dr. Kumkum Srivastava, ECTA State Facilitator, Rajasthan and
Prabha Sati, Research Consultant, European Commission Technical Assistance, New Delhi, March 2007.