Kumud here, Sourcing Manager for Diaspora Co. I’m thrilled to share that a few weeks ago, we were able to kickstart one of our first projects funded by the Farm Worker Fund with a medical health camp for our Pragati Turmeric farm workers. Based on the interviews and surveys that were initially conducted (find them here!), we knew that ongoing medical awareness and follow up care was going to be needed. We were able to identify an on-field team that is extremely experienced, local to the area, and deeply understanding of the lifestyles of farm workers to better assist and aid them. With the support of Capital Hospital, a private institution in the city of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, we were able to involve a group of fantastic specialists across several departments:
- Dr. RaghuRam, General Physician
- Mr. Anjaneyulu, ECG technician
- Dr. Hima Bindu, Dietician and Nutritionist
- Dr. Sai Priya, Gynecologist
- Dr. K. Laxmi Narayana, Orthopedician.
- Dr. Rama Krishna, Ophthalmologist
- Dr. Rishikesh, Dentist
- Dr. Narayana Chava & Dr. Bhargavi - lead consultants and coordinators
Given that it was an all-day camp, it was so special to have Prabhu, our Pragati Turmeric farmer, present the entire time as head-cheerleader and emotional support system for the workers. Over 45 participants were tested for blood pressure, sugar levels, height, weight, and bone mineral density amongst other crucial medical tests. Previous attendees of the 1st medical camp (held in 2019) received follow-up treatments from specialists. The doctors addressed health concerns and outlined next steps. The day concluded with a well-received talk on nutritious diets and oral hygiene awareness. It was heartwarming to witness the farm workers coming in with enthusiasm and leaving with a sense of shared community well being. The goal was to get a thorough understanding of each worker's current health status and come up with a detailed plan for each individual that we could support them in executing.
- We noticed the importance of addressing anemia among female farmers, and they were given meaningful ways of increasing iron and vitamin B12 intake in their diets.
- Joint pains and orthopedic issues were common among the farmers. We will be providing some additional tools to improve ergonomics during field work to help minimize pressure on joints.
- We also conducted ECG tests for those experiencing chest pain and abnormal blood pressure.
- There’s a need for the women workers to receive regular gynecology care, including screenings for HPV and cervical cancer. These essential check ups can only be conducted in a hospital setting where the necessary medical equipment is accessible.
- For elderly farm workers, we identified cases of cataract and eyesight problems. There is a social welfare scheme, YSR Kanti Velugu Scheme for the state of Andhra Pradesh which entails free cataract surgeries and postoperative care. A plan has been devised to tap into that resource and to assist the elderly step by step to ensure these surgeries take place.
- Dental health was also a major concern. Most of them required oral prophylaxis and a few fillings or restorations for decayed teeth. We are tying up with a local dental clinic to begin these procedures.
Follow Ups and the Way Forward
Our hope is that by bringing medical practitioners together to assist with regular health checkups for farm workers, we are able to prioritize the health of the farm workers and improve the quality of life. We are looking at this from two perspectives — with awareness of one’s health, some medical issues can be prevented and managed; however, there are also some that are not, for which we will provide ongoing support.
The FWF will continue to fund:
- A bigger, annual check up for all the farm workers at Capital hospital itself. This is for any medical tests that require special equipment and high end machines.
- A similar medical camp will take place quarterly in their village. This is the ensure that the workers are in the know about the status of their health and any future ailments can be prevented.
Coming Up Next for the Farm Worker Fund…
Reema and I are teaming up with new implementation partners to set up a financial literacy camp for the Pragati Turmeric farm workers. We will then head to the Aranya Pepper farm to begin setting up solar panels on the workers’ homes as they’ve requested and additionally conduct a financial literacy camp there as well. More on all of that and how we’ll be funding the next phase of the Farm Worker Fund soon!