In the initial years before 1990,
Health was only a peripheral programme for Badlao Foundation.
Interventions in this area mainly consisted of organising health
camps on prevention of seasonal waterborne and airborne illnesses,
health education on personal hygiene and community cleanliness,
discussions on low cost nutritious diet for mother and child,
general check- ups, and a small clinical service. Periodic
distribution of medicines & assistance in getting admitted to the
Government hospital in case of major illnesses were also popular.
In 1990, the Community Health Programme was taken up in a big way
in 62 villages of Jamtara block (the district was carved out from
erstwhile district of Dumka in 2001) of the Jamtara District with
the help of Swiss Red Cross. There were several reasons for this.
It was found that Government health services by far failed to
reach the remote villages of their area. The Mahila Sabha had also
become strong by then and demanded that Badlao Foundation take up
health services in a comprehensive manner.
A survey showed that
more than 90% women of the programme villages suffered from anaemia. The infant mortality rate was very high as well as the
maternal mortality rate. Girls were married off at as young as 15
years of age and had their first child within a year or two. Hard
labour and a poor diet, especially amongst the women folk left
them malnourished and anaemic.
Maternal and child health services, immunisation campaign and
family welfare formed important components of the Community Health
programme. By 1995, this programme had spread to 20,000 families
of 108 villages in Jamtara, Jarmundi and Sundarpahari blocks of
Dumka and Godda districts. An Ambulance service and a Pathological
Laboratory were also started in the early 1990s. However, Badlao
Foundation was compelled to close down both these services within
a couple of years. While the Ambulance service began to be
demanded, by the local political and antisocial bigwigs for the
flimsiest of reasons, the Pathological Laboratory fell into
disuse, as people could not appreciate its need.
A team of 6 doctors, 10 community health workers, 26 health
promoters and 46 traditional birth attendants on behalf of
Foundation attended to the medical needs of these villages.