Celebrating World Health Day in Mungeli

By: CHM Staff

Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM) is located in a rural town in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, which has a population of 25 million. Half the population lives on less than $1.5 a day (Below the Poverty Line). Chhattisgarh is one of eight Indian states whose poverty exceeds that of 26 of the poorest African countries. We have the second highest maternal death rate in India. Eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas, 80% of households do not have a toilet, and only half of rural women are literate. For cultural and economic reasons, many rural residents often fail to seek medical care until their condition is critical, instead first consulting traditional healers and unlicensed village medical practitioners. In this challenging context, our mission is to provide low cost, modern health care and education through skilled and compassionate personnel, to those marginalized by poverty.

CHM is a 120-bed rural secondary care hospital with 7 doctors, 2 physiotherapists and 2 dentists. Together with 42 nurses, annually we deliver 650 babies, perform 2,500 surgeries in three operating theatres, run two ICUs, treat 30,000 outpatients, and conduct 48,000 lab tests. We run a nursing school (General Nursing and Midwifery) for 90 rural Chhattisgarh girls, and an English language school for 960 village children. We believe that education can break the cycle of poverty and lead young people on a path of independent thought. At CHM we address the impacts of extreme poverty by providing acute intensive medical care to patients suffering from attempted suicides (mostly farmers and young people), dowry related burnings of women, snake and scorpion bites, delayed or denied treatment for infections such as TB, HIV, Hepatitis and anemia often complicated by pregnancy. We provide acute surgical care in maternal health, carcinomas and abdominal complications requiring general surgery, and trauma victims requiring orthopedic surgery. We are the only hospital in this frontier area offering high quality surgical, obstetric, neo-natal, cancer, intensive care and blood bank services. We are also the only hospital in the district enrolled in the government’s national health insurance plan which provides free medical or surgical treatment for up to $500 per year for marginalized families.

We started an incentive based program called the Baby Box for women to seek prenatal care and deliver in the hospital. Most maternal and infant deaths are prevented with good prenatal care. The family receives a plastic box that is used as a cradle and can weather the monsoon, with essential items for baby unavailable to the rural family. This includes: mattress, bedsheet, towel, cloth diapers, mosquito net, baby soap and oil and clothes. All materials are sourced and stitched by local women.

In October 2016 we started a cancer treatment center. This is the first rural not-for-profit cancer center in the state. We have a radiation oncologist, two technicians and a medical physicist. The cobalt-source machine was donated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. Chhattisgarh has a high incidence of cervical and oral cancer but treatment is only in cities when the majority of deaths occur in the rural area.

An award from USAID’s ASHA program funded a mobile health clinic to take health care to the most remote areas. Since August 2016, we have treated over 1,200 patients in the field. The mobile clinic is a 37 foot long bus with a pharmacy, lab, dental unit, ultrasound and procedure room. Patients are not charged to register, get their vitals checked, or to see the doctor. They are charged half of the market price for medicines, and half the government rates for procedures and lab tests. The mobile clinic has enabled us to partner with other civil society groups to expand our services. This includes free vitamins for pregnant women and vitamin A for babies (Vitamin Angels); oral and cervical cancer screening with cryotherapy for women with cervical cancer (Cornell and CMC Vellore), and vision testing with spectacles (Carl Zeiss Foundation). Other USAID ASHA awards include construction and equipment for a maternal and child health wing; a nursing hostel, and dining hall for 220 students and staff; a sewage treatment plant; and oxygen concentrator. USAID ASHA's support enables us to continue provide low cost modern health care for the poorest people in rural India.

Ever year over 70 American volunteers visit us. They are students, church groups, researchers and others who want to be a part of what we do. We like to say that it is not important whether you have a skill to share. It is more important that you are present, here with us.

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