Voice Trust, an organisation working on healthcare issues of the marginalised communities, conducted an awareness programme to celebrate the World Environment Day at the Boys Higher Secondary School at Andipatti near here on Wednesday. It held an interactive session, which was attended by around 60 farmers from the surrounding areas.

“Most farmers cite health reasons and skip our awareness programmes. So we chose to integrate medical problems and environmental issues this time and create awareness among them in their own place,” said T.Murugesan, director of Voice Trust. Andipatti MLA Thangatamilselvan spoke on the importance of saving the environment. “The people here should make an effort to segregate garbage and plant saplings in their own backyards. When the people in villages take these initiatives, it will spread to the cities as well,” he added.

K.Arumugam, an agricultural officer who spearheads ‘Úzhavar Unavagam’, an initiative focusing on healthy diet, spoke on the importance of traditional foods which had a host of health benefits.

“Foods that were rich in fibre and protein have now given way to fast foods that cause health problems” he said. “ Dr.Krishnan Swaminathan, endocrinologist, Apollo Speciality Hospitals, Madurai, detailed the increasing incidence of diabetes among farmers though they work for long hours.

“Farmers should wear masks and gloves while handling fertilisers as accumulation of fertilisers in the blood might lead to increased blood sugar,” he said, and added: “India is, however, yet to carry out substantial research to prove this trend.”

Dr.Swaminathan emphasised the need to get checked for diabetes at a proper healthcare facility as many people were not aware of its symptoms and often failed to treat it in the right way.

Later, Voice Trust planted 25 neem and portia trees inside the compound of the school.