Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
Dr V Soundarajan, a medical officer at a primary healthcare centre (PHC) in Peravurani Taluk in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district belongs to a family of farmers. During his 28 years’ service as a medical practitioner, he learnt a lot about maternal and infant deaths, the main reason for which is anaemia. Anaemia is caused due to lack of food containing iron, calcium and protein, and a lot of pregnant women are unaware of that.
Soundarajan’s aim was to create awareness regarding this issue and attempt to let people know that maternal death can be prevented.
Every Tuesday, nearly 50 pregnant women come to the PHC for check-ups, and those who cannot come to the PHC receive a regular door-to-door check-up. On these Tuesdays, food rich in calcium, protein and minerals are prepared for those who come for the check-ups.
“We often bring the mothers to my organic garden and attempt to give them an idea of how they can grow these crops at home at a low cost. It is our attempt to make them realise how important nutrition is during pregnancy,” Soundarajan said in a conversation with The Logical Indian.
In his organic garden, he is rearing cows and hens for milk and eggs, which are important sources of nutrition. The output is distributed among the women.
“In addition to this, there are several women who cannot come to me because they have to go out and work daily, and also due to lack of money. We have been going to the houses of these women for the last three months and providing them with milk, eggs, jaggery and green leafy vegetables, without charging them anything. Milk and jaggery contain iron and help prevent anaemia,” he said.
Besides preventing anaemia, nutritious food for pregnant women prevent infant deaths. In Soundarajan’s organic garden, he grows spinach, red amaranth, stem amaranth, Indian Pennywort, coriander, mint, drumstick leaves, sorrel leaves and more. Vegetables like brinjals, pumpkins, bottle gourds, bitter gourds, ladies fingers and cucumbers are grown. They cater to 50 women per week, 200 women per month and from August 2017, they have helped 3,400 women with the help of employees from rural primary healthcare centres.
When asked about his future plans, he said, “I would like to do my best to reduce illnesses like heart attack, stroke, obesity and diabetes. A walking track constructed by us will soon be made better.” To create awareness about obesity among children, they have constructed a park to make children realise that diabetes is preventable.
“I believe that all PHCs should get the resources to create an organic garden, and rear cows and hens so that more women can benefit from the nutrition. The government should take responsibility to provide funds for the PHCs. Pregnant women should be provided with a subsidy so that they can create an organic garden in their house,” he said.
To ANC (Ante Natal Care) mothers, they have provided food since 2006. From the same year, this has been followed by the government as a scheme with the name Tamil Nadu Government Primary Health ANC Diet Programme.
“I think the best part about our initiative is that in our healthcare centre, we treat patients in a way they would be treated in a private hospital. All the equipment are not only provided by the government, but also by a lot of local people,” he said.
The Logical Indian appreciates Dr V Soundarajan for his effort to help those in need.
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