The Corbett Foundation (TCF) is a non-profit charitable organization actively engaged in wildlife conservation and working for the communities living in and around the Protected Areas in India. Established in 1994, TCF is the brain-child of Mr. Dilip D. Khatau, the scion of the 4th generation of the powerful Khatau Business House dealing in textiles. The Foundation’s mission emphasizes commitment to the conservation of wildlife and nature, and fulfilling the ambition that men and nature must live together in harmony. The Corbett Foundation’s programs are mainly in the areas of wildlife conservation, environmental awareness, community outreach, veterinary services, watershed management and sustainable eco-development. Further, TCF believes that only a healthy individual can contribute to a healthy population, and so it is important to win over the local community regarding the need for conservation. To that end, the Foundation launched a Rural Medical Outreach Programme (RMOP) alongside its wildlife conservation work, which it thought essential both as a humanitarian response and a trust-building measure among the rural people living around the wildlife. The first step was to provide community members in 50 select villages with first-aid boxes along with the Hindi version of a very useful book: “Where There Is No Doctor”.
Currently there are approximately 100 villages in the buffer zone of Corbett Tiger Reserve and at present, TCF covers about 50% through their RMOP. Consultations, treatment and medicines are dispensed to patients at a nominal cost of Rs. 10, but these fees are collected as donations towards conservation. This unique practice aims to both involve the villagers directly in the conservation work while simultaneously increasing their sense of responsibility towards their health.
An Outpatient Clinic is organized twice a week at the Foundation’s centers in Dhikuli and Rathuadhab. On the other days of the week, medical camps are held at different villages. A monthly schedule is maintained and adhered to, which makes it easier for the nearby villagers to benefit from the facility. Along with the medical camps, regular health awareness campaigns are conducted at the villages. These include campaigns about drinking clean water, preventing water borne diseases, personal hygiene, mother and child healthcare, and other priority health areas. In addition, TCF’s doctors train village healthcare workers on how to properly administer first aid, a practice that began in 2010 for 30 villages on the outskirts of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.
After assisting in the immediate response effort in Uttar Pradesh, AmeriCares India Foundation staff subsequently traveled to Dehradun to conduct medical camps for those impacted by the recent floods. During the visit, Dr. Parikh met with state health authorities, who identified the district of Almora as being in particular need of further medical support due to the lingering effects of flooding and subsequent landslides. Therefore, a few weeks later in early December, AmeriCares India Foundation physicians and relief workers returned to Uttarakhand. Essential medicines and medical supplies were hand-carried from Mumbai to the remote village of Manan, where the team conducted a medical camp for the affected population. Alongside the medical camp, AmeriCares India Foundation staff led a disaster preparedness and emergency medical management training for local healthcare workers. Eighty members of the community were in attendance, including the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, local doctors, ambulance workers, anganwadis and ASHAs.
In addition to these activities, AmeriCares India Foundation also had discussions with the Chief Medical Officer and other leaders of the Almora healthcare community regarding post-disaster medical needs. All levels of healthcare delivery – from doctor to ASHA – emphasized the need for training in emergency management, specifically trauma care. With a shortage of doctors due to the distance from a major city, and the long transport times arising from the mountainous terrain, the village health workers’ capacity to act as first responders is paramount. Therefore, in coordination with the district health authorities, AmeriCares India Foundation is devising a training module to effectively train all 2,000 village health workers – anganwadis, ASHAs and SS workers – across the entire district of Almora in disaster preparedness and medical emergency management. Further, the program will also include a separate curriculum specific to the more sophisticated needs of the advanced practitioners.
As per the request of the local community, the trainings will likely commence in June 2011.