A Community Health Care Centre True to its Name
They say India is a nation that is severely short when it comes to providing healthcare services in respect to its massive population. Some estimates say that the healthcare infrastructure in place is not even capable to serve even a third of the population. In all my years of being a doctor, I have been a part of many a discussion and debate that attempted to find a solution to this grave problem. Sadly, no concrete solutions have come up.
Yet the journey continues to find a solution so that every Indian has access to quality and affordable healthcare service in India. On a recent visit to Munnar, I happened to hear about the Chithirapuram Community Healthcare Centre. I decided to find out more about this place for myself. Needless to say as the medical practitioner I have seen many attempts at community-based health care programs and centers that start put with the same noble cause and yet, unfortunately, fizzle out due to poor administration or lack of funds. The Chithirapuram Community Health Care Centre is one of its kinds in Asia. Formed in the year 1968, it is located at a distance of 6 kilometers away from the Pallivasal Tea Factory It is the largest community center spanning an area over 170 kilometers and includes one primary center and 12 panchayats. The name Chithirapuram is believed to be named after the famous king Raja Ravi Varma who is famed for his art. The Chithirapuram Health Centre is situated on around 14 acres of land. Out of these 3 acres of land have been converted for cultivating vegetables and fruits since October 2014.
I was told that what once was a terrace cultivation project that started with a humble beginning of 200 grow bags of fruits and vegetables atop the government staff quarters under the guidance of block medical officer Dr. VV Radha, all the staff of the community center have successfully turned this project into a full-fledged vegetable and fruit farm. More recently, floriculture, mushroom cultivation and a variety of medicinal plants are being taken up with the help of the local community and the Pallivasal Krishi Bhavan. Also. I was also impressed by the latest forms of irrigation methods like fertigation, micro-irrigation, rain shelter, bio gas and vermi compost that were being administered the help of Krishi Bhavan.
Chithirapuram has slowly transformed into a community that prides itself in its ability to sustain itself and the local community through agriculture and farming activities. They have planted 1500 orange trees, tissue culture banana, and red lady papaya, under SHM (Structural Health Monitoring) process. They are selling these agricultural produce to local markets and nearby hotel/resort industries. The profit getting from this organic cultivation unit is using for helping poor people in this area.
The area of Chithirapuram has the agro-climatic conditions suitable for the cultivation of plantation crops like Orange, Banana, Papaya, vegetables like Tomato, Okra, Cucumber, Carrot, Chinese cabbage, Beans, Green Peas, and various medicinal plants like Sun flower, Kale and Ginger. The Chithirapuram Community Health Centre has been the recipient of the Best Government Institution Award from the government of Kerala, a first for the district of Idukki for the last fifty years. The community health centre has turned itself into a holistic healthcare service provider that has become a model of community based public health and prevention programs.
I truly believe that the Chithirapuram Community Health Care Centre can serve as a role model for other health centres and organisations for tackling the problem of sustainable healthcare services in India. It has to start with the notion that the best form of healthcare is prevention and Chithirapuram stands testament to this notion.
Dr. Anoop R Nair, Trivandrum