An Update on the Village Health Program

We would like to pass on our love and Christmas greetings to you all. The Village Health Program (VHP) is a very important programme within the Kailakuri Health Care Project. The staff of the VHP have been working faithfully for the people of the three religious communities in this area for a long time. This year we have had to make some adjustments because of changes in Government rules, reduced funding and retirements. Four of the 18 staff have retired this year. For many years Leo Rema was the faithful leader but he has recently retired and been replaced by Hemonto Bormon. Hemonto has worked for ten years in the clinic programme and he has had two years of preparation to become VHP Leader.

There are new challenges in every season. We are facing each of these challenges with your co-operation, love and support, which have helped us to stay strong and given us courage to continue our work. The government has divided our two unions (local administrative areas) into four. Although we are now working across four unions, the number of VHP villages is still twenty-two, with a population of 18,000. Our sub-district, Madhupur, has a population of 315,000. Among them, 126,000 people are poor (40%), and 63,000 people are extremely poor (20%). There is still a huge need to continue VHP work in our area.

The VHP’s work has had an impressive impact on health related outcomes and building awareness of health issues. In the villages where VHP works, there are many poor people who can’t afford proper treatment for pregnant women and babies. Although some of the main roads are sealed, the conditions of most village roads are still appalling. The VHP staff are carrying out their mother and childcare work in these areas throughout the year in cold, rainy or hot, muggy conditions. Every VHP staff member is responsible for a particular area near their village home. Because of this, they are able to assist in many deliveries and give advice at any time. So the mortality rates of mothers and children have decreased significantly. Alongside mother and childcare, the VHP also focuses on health education, giving treatment advice and increasing awareness. When people do not receive medical advice from the right people they can be led astray by quacks and become even poorer after selling their property for treatment. If a new disease appears, the VHP staff work hard to treat the patients and prevent further outbreak of the disease.

We believe that our program is a good model of effective health care at low cost. People come from different places to visit us. Sometimes medical students and doctors come and they go into the villages

with our staff to see our work. In this way they are exposed to the lifestyles and health problems of poorer and lower educated people in the villages, in situations they may be unfamiliar with. Overall, we really feel that this is a suitable programme with appropriate treatment methods. As the government treatment centre is far way, the people of this area, especially pregnant women and children, would have really suffered without the VHP. The VHP’s activities are still necessary for the people of this area. We hope that we will be able to continue our health work in the future as we receive the same support and cooperation as before. We wish you all the best.