While Chennai and most areas of Tamil Nadu have reasonable access to health care, there are lessons to be learnt from the work Mumbai-based neuro physician Janak Nathan and his team are doing in Gujarat.

Dr. Nathan, who was in the city last week to receive the Tanker Foundation Awareness Award – 2014, says, “When I started, people in the area used to brand the forehead of persons having fits with hot irons. But that practice has now been stopped due to our intervention.”

During an epileptic attack it does not help if you stuff onions into the person’s mouth, pour water, let them hold keys or even hold them down. Instead, the person should be turned over to one side to prevent them from gagging on saliva, he said. “In some of the areas where we have been serving, it takes about four hours for anyone to get proper medical aid; which is why we are in the process of training anganwadi workers to use a nasal spray that will stop attacks in a matter of a few minutes,” he says.

Along with NGOs Bidada Sarvodaya Trust and Bhojay Sarvodaya Trust, Dr. Nathan has provided consultation for 30,000 persons and performed free EEGs for 10,000 persons and medicines at 50 per cent of their cost.

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