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HEALING TOUCH Seema Talwar at a health camp
HEALING TOUCH Seema Talwar at a health camp

The survey revealed gross deficiencies in health indices, which were way below accepted norms of a city Kutumb and Friends Invigorating Life Association, (KAFILA), a project by the Kutumb Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, in association with the Lions Club International, held its first health screening camp for the Khan Market Labour Camp, a slum located behind Khan Market. This camp was organised in response to a planned intervention where the NGO carried out a detailed survey to index the state of health of the people. The findings showed gross deficiencies in the health indices that were way below accepted norms of a city. Seema Talwar, Chairperson, KAFILA, says, "The findings were absolutely shocking. Over 80 per cent of childbirths take place at home and 50 per cent of these are delivered without any medical assistance."

Four-step approach

Talwar emphasises the importance of educating people on health issues and states, "Educating people on health-related issues is our mainstay." Explaining the KAFILA project, she says, "There are four key steps: We implement a demographic profile of the residents, conduct health screenings, create self-sustaining health clinics and conduct ongoing health workshops." A demographic profile entails conducting a mini census to know various parameters like resources, economic status and the like. The house-to-house screenings are conducted to evaluate the current health needs and problems of the permanent slum residents. "At this stage, basic medicines are provided with health identification cards with critical patient information like name, age, blood group, allergies, etc.," explains Talwar. Small mobile health clinics, operating once a week, serve as first referral units. Health workshops are also conducted by doctors, medical students, social workers and others. "These workshops deal with sanitation camps, sex education, yoga, meditation, balanced diet, etc," adds Talwar.Pointing out that the lifestyle of slum dwellers is completely different from that of urban middle class, she remarks, "There is no sense of privacy. People share space and there is a lot of congestion." She says they have accepted this lifestyle without resentmentTalwar shares an unforgettable experience. "I saw a shrivelled lady breastfeeding her month-old great grandson, on the pretext that her daughter-in-law was busy with the household work." The incident shook her, she says, adding, "This is immensely dangerous for the infant as it may transfer germs from the lady." To help spread awareness, she is ready to take the help of like-minded organisations.

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