IMPROVING ACCESS TO CARE IN RURAL INDIA "Sanitation and health education in village communities through improved awareness and knowledge of prevention/management of diseases and health promotion (sevak) project"
Sevak Guyana Project
The Sevak project in Guyana is modeled after the one in Gujarat. Mr. George Subraj who owns the Zara Realty in New York, a philanthropist who wanted to give back to his country of roots partnered with Dr. Rahul M. Jindal, a transplant surgeon at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, USA to provide renal transplant and renal replacement therapy in Guyana. This program was initiated in 2007.
Prior to Dr Jindal and his team’s arrival in Guyana, there were no transplants and renal care was minimal. Since they started 15 transplants have been done and many patients are receiving dialysis treatments. This is an ongoing project in which the transplant team from the US makes 4 trips a year to Guyana.
Mr. Subraj heard of the Sevak project through Dr. Jindal and got very interested because of the reach it will have to a wider population who will benefit from screening and education to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease and also provide education on sanitation and healthy life style. Dr. Jindal got a buy in from Mr. Subraj who said he will fund it. He then got Dr. T.G. Patel involved to initiate the project in Guyana.
We obtained support from Swami Aksharanand who runs an Ashram and a school (https://www.facebook.com/SVNGuyana). 2 teachers and 4 students were chosen from the Saraswati Vidya Niketan School. Fortunately one of the teachers Mr. Nehru, is a Biology teacher. Dr. Patel sent him the anatomy, physiology and some clinical material to be taught prior to the start of the program. Once that training was done, Dr. Patel went with Dr. Jindal, Mr. Subraj and the transplant team. Dr. Patel spent time with the Sevaks to teach use of BP and blood sugar machines, how to fill out survey forms and approach to people being screened and privacy.
Field work has started and so far about 200 people have been screened. The plan is to screen 50 people a month until the entire population of 7 villages comprising 10,000 people are screened. Each Sevak monitors and follows the screened families and serves as their health advocate. We have selected 7 villages in the remote region of Guyana where there are no medical facilities and they are far from any health center. Each SEVAK resides in the village and is familiar with the people they are screening. In this way, the SEVAKS and the families build trust in each other for the long-term.
Early results show that there is a significant percentage of undetected diabetes and hypertension in the villages. The sanitary conditions are also below minimum acceptable standards. A detailed analysis of the results will be presented at a later date.
We believe that our work will inform policy makers in Guyana of the need for preventative services and be a model for other towns and villages in Guyana to emulate.