A cholera outbreak which claimed the lives of many tribal people in the Dasmantpur block of Koraput district in Odisha, left a deep imprint on the mind of Dr Chittaranjan Jena. Back in 2007, when he witnessed the ordeals of tribal people as a result of lack of healthcare facilities in their region. He was determined to do something to improve their situation. The Koraput district in Odisha has been regarded as one of the most underdeveloped regions where villagers continue to compromise with their health standards and live in an abject state of poverty. But Dr Chittaranjan Jena is striving hard since the last two years as he walks for kilometers every week with his team to make sure that healthcare services reach even in the remotest villages of that district.
In a conversation with The Logical Indian about his work, Dr Chittaranjan says, “The tribal people in Koraput district live under miserable conditions. Going back to my college days, I recall many medical cases when people in the tribal region suffered or died due to absence of very basic healthcare services. Also, they lack the awareness about the importance of maintaining hygiene in our daily lives which makes them more vulnerable to diseases.”
The green valleys of Koraput district have been home to thousands of tribal dwellers. The villages in this region inhabited by the tribal population, show low level of human development indicators. But despite such adverse conditions in that area, this young and compassionate doctor is working relentlessly to ensure that medical facilities reach them. He created ‘Gaonku Chala Committee’ which means ‘let’s go to the villages’ along with like-minded people in his profession to provide his services to the impoverished people in the tribal region. For him, this concept equates the service rendered to the needy people with the service done to God.
Talking about his noble initiative with The Logical Indian, Dr Chittaranjan shares, “After my first posting in this district in 2016 as a medical officer, I became well acquainted with problems faced by people here. Under ‘Gaonku Chala Committee’, we aim to raise awareness about important healthcare related issues such as hand washing, menstruation, drinking clean water, so that they would be able to live healthier lives. Also, I appeal to others in this profession to render their services to the needy ones.”
This committee has set a number of target villages in that region so that they could spread awareness on important topics concerning them and better their lives. The twelve villages that come under this are- Ghatmundar, Alchi, Baghalamti, Kalati, Gadri, Haladisil, Bendela, Ambaguda, Koraguda, Phundaguda, Gadaligumma and Laresh. Various activities such as the use of mosquito nets in the prevention of malaria and dengue, cleaning and preventing water lodging to prevent mosquito breeding, counselling lactating mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and routine health check-up of the community is being conducted to change the prevalent conditions.
As a result of his initiative, many positive changes have been observed in the villagers and it has received appreciation from everywhere. On the similar lines, they have introduced another initiative named Swasthaya Sahayaka Bahini (SSB) which allows the villagers’ share their health related issues and report it to medical authorities. These initiatives allow the tribal people to benefit from the medical services which would otherwise not be able to reach them. All thanks to the genuine efforts of Dr Jena, the backwardness in this region is slowly changing and he remains hopeful of changing the situation of acute healthcare scenario in this district. According to him, there are a number of important issues faced by tribal people that could be solved only by the centre and the state intervention.
“The major problem which we face now is the lack of road connectivity in the interior villages. If government works on improving connectivity in these regions, we would be able to provide ambulances under emergency situations. The language difference also separates them from the mainstream and it becomes difficult to connect with them. But we look forward to keep working till we set it as an example for other districts,” told Dr Chittaranjan Jena to The Logical Indian
Although the dire shortage of health facilities in this district along with other problems like illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, malnutrition has posed a difficult challenge for him to completely transform the face of the tribal villages, he is doing his bit in bringing forward a positive change.
The Logical Indian salutes this young doctor for rendering his services to the people of tribal region and putting his noble efforts for a better tomorrow.