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Pramila’s relentless journey through a Road Less Travelled

November 06, 2018

Nearly 60% of the Indian population lives in rural and tribal areas where a minimum distance of 5kms has to be covered to reach the nearest health facility. The distance and lack of healthcare facilities makes it extreme difficult for communities to avail basic health services when required.

One such area is the Araku Valley which is located in the Eastern Ghats about 115 km from Visakhapatnam, close to Odisha state border. Araku is inhabited by various tribes like the Khonds, Gadabas, Jatapus, Kondreddys, Savaras etc. Araku is a paradise untouched by concrete hands of mankind. The disconnect between the tribal population of Araku and our worldly civilization is a breath of fresh air and yet, till about two years back a gloom hung over these lands. The winds bore of the crisis of mothers who lost their new-borns, the mountains hid the grief of lost mothers and winding roads relayed the journey of families fighting for themselves.

The major challenges inflicting the communities at Araku Valley are:

  • Lack of resources
  • Illiteracy and poverty
  • Lack of awareness of hygienic and nutritional practices
  • Geographical constraints.

ASARA is a project of Piramal Swasthya focused on ending preventable deaths in tribal areas by providing healthcare services to tribal pregnant women through community outreach, mobility of the pregnant mothers and the specialist consultations through telemedicine and referral services. A total of 38 employees (trained paramedics) are delivering quality and uninterrupted healthcare services to 1179 habitations encompassing in the Araku, Paderu and Chintapalle mandals.

Pramila is a diligent tribal Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) of Araku Valley, determined to overcome cultural barriers, social barriers like superstitions preventing the utilization of available healthcare services among their tribes and overlook risks involved in her work. To reach the beneficiaries every day she takes a four-wheeler that drops her to the nearest motor-friendly road. Then she travels on a bike, driven by a man who isn’t her husband, to a point from where she hikes to reach the habitation. Her daily routine involves identifying every pregnant women and neonate, registering and counselling on healthy practices that are to be followed. She picks up the high-risk cases and infants from their home in ASARA vehicles and accompanies them to the tele-medicine centre where the beneficiary’s details are collected and are provided with consultation with expert gynaecologist or other specialist doctor, based out in Hyderabad through conferencing technology. Pramila reaches out to as many beneficiaries as possible every day.

Pramila’s dedication and commitment has helped Piramal Swasthya reduce the maternal mortality in the last two years to zero, increase institutional deliveries to 68% and significant increase in the breastfeeding practices in the Araku Valley. Pramila’s contribution for this impact is of greater magnitude. Pramila comes across many high-risk cases and deals them with utmost care. One among such high-risk case is Someli.

Someli is one of the beneficiaries from Araku Valley who developed labor pains ahead of her delivery date. Pramila attended her and got her admitted in the Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC). But the Someli being not so conscious about her healthcare requirements, left the PHC, went home and suffered from lot of pain, bleeding and fever throughout that night. Pramila being very concerned about Someli’s health went to her home straight away and got her admitted again in the PHC. Pramila’s steadfastness saved a mother from dreadful and fatal complications.

Pramila has saved many such lives and continues on her journey to serve more women and children.

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