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Sustainability and human rights: Village health workers training and practice

Patricia Antoniello, PhD1, Preyasi Kothari2, Punam Thakkar3, and Alex Kaysin2. (1) Depts. Anthropology and Health Sciences; Program of Public Health, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Avenue 4123N, Brooklyn, NY 11210, 718 951 5640, pata@brooklyn.cuny.edu, (2) SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, 450 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11203, (3) Departments of Biology and Anthropology, Brooklyn Colege, City University of New York, 2601 Glenwood Road, Brooklyn, NY 11210

The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) in Jamkhed, Maharastra India is a participatory integrated primary health care that provides health, economic and social programs for more than 300,000 villagers. One of the most successful aspect of the Jamkhed model is the selection, training and on-going learning of Village Health Workers (VHW). The project has trained more than 200 VHWS since 1971 who have become change agents for their villages. The success of CRHP is demonstrated by the dramatic improvements in health, social and economic aspects village life for the more than 300,000 and in major health indicators of life expectancy, maternal/children health and decreased mortality, for example, infant mortality decreased from 176/1000 in 1971 to 26/1000 in 1991. Methods: Based on anthropological methodology we conducted ethnographic research including participant observation and focus groups. To collect data we used a comprehensive social, personal and medical life history face-to-face interview with 12 selected VHWs. Results: This paper reports on the changes in life experience of VHW especially regarding their own reproductive rights, and right to make decision about marriage and schooling, and freedom from domestic violence. VHWS report on how their own activates in the villages have changed their own status and markedly improved the general life circumstances of village women. Embedded in the Jamkhed integrative model are the tools for generating transformative changes in human rights especially for women village health workers trained to act as agents of change promoting health, providing health care, and reorganizing economic activities in the villages for caste and gender equity.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community-Based Health Care, Rural Health Service Providers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Thirty-Five Years of Community-Based Primary Health Care - The Jamkhed Experience

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA