Bringing Needed Medical Care to the Farthest of Rural Communities
Even when quality healthcare is available in the cities, access is not the same for those living in rural communities. In order to bridge that gap, the Tulsi Rural Development Trust has gone into those communities and brought quality healthcare to people in over 27 villages. When more advanced and specialized care is needed, unmet needs are identified to ensure the patient is wholly cared for in city hospitals. This includes, but is not limited to, transportation, housing, and follow-up care.
The first project that the Gunvati J. Kapoor Foundation supported was to the Bombay Leprosy Project by providing needed medications to leprosy patients.
What many people do not know is that leprosy is one of the most treatable and least infectious diseases, yet in India, there are still many people who are afflicted by Leprosy.
Besides working to care for the medical needs of leprosy patients, the Bombay Leprosy Project’s long-term goal is to improve quality of life. They work towards this goal by using scientific research to uncover the mysteries of the disease.
At the time of our donation, India was home to the largest number of blind people in the world. Out of the 37 million blind across the globe, 15 million were in India.
The worst part is that 75% of these cases were avoidable and mostly caused by cataracts. We felt that if more cataracts could be treated, more blindness could be prevented.
Tulsi Rural Development Trust created mobile eye treatment centers, and the Gunvati J. Kapoor Foundation provided support for vitally needed eye surgeries and the development of community projects to help alleviate the burdens of lack of access to proper healthcare.
In 2005, Dr. Shelly Batra and Sandeep Ahuja created Operation Asha in the effort to bring their vision of eradicating tuberculosis throughout India into reality.
Opening their first TB treatment center in 2006, Operation ASHA enrolled twenty-six patients in the first three months. That one center has grown to include more than 2000 centers in slums and villages.
The number of patients Operation ASHA treats is impressive – with 34 centers, and over 3,000 patients receiving treatment annually. However, ASHA calculates that the benefits of their program extend far beyond these immediate individuals because while the treatment “raises the productivity and saves lives” it also “prevents 36,000 [future] infections,” based on the assumption that each person infects an average of 12 others.
Ultimately, ASHA’s success lies in its ability to bring patient care to a level accessible by the population it serves. In adapting to the social structure of the environment as opposed to demanding unreasonable effort, ASHA brings together communities, raises awareness, and decreases the prevalence of one of the deadliest, but most treatable diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (13% of all deaths) in 2008. 66% of all cancer deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.
Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in India, with about 2.5 million cancer patients, 1 million new cases added every year and with a chance of the disease rising five-fold by 2025. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has urged the Government of India to make cancer a notifiable disease because there is a high probability of treating cancers if detected early in Stages I or II.
We understand the magnitude of the problem and hence have joined the army of doctors, hospitals, NGO’s and government officials to fight the battle of cancer in India. We hope to help fight the battle by supporting preventative measures, early detection, treatment, and palliative care.
We are organizing breast and cervical cancer screening camps for women in the slum communities in Mumbai. Our goal is to help provide affordable and accessible early detection screening options to increase the potential for recovery.
Supporting Patient Treatment
Treatment is the series of interventions, including psychosocial support, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy that are aimed at curing the disease or prolonging life considerably while improving the patients’ quality of life. We are supporting patient treatment by working with patients to ensure that they are sticking to their treatment regiments and are paired with resources to support them during their treatment.
Tata hospital is one of the best-known cancer hospitals in India. 80% of patients travel from different parts of the country for treatment with the hope of being cured. Many of them are farmers and daily wage earners with minimum levels of education. Many feel extremely lost when they try to navigate around the hospital.
These patients need guidance. Many cancers are curable, and there is financial medical assistance available through various Trusts. The most important factor is ensuring that these patients and caregivers are aware of the abundance of resources available, so they may focus on healing.
Since November 2013, we are working with the Adult Hemato Lymphoid Department at Tata Hospital to provide patients and their families with necessary guidance and information. In May 2014 we began providing educational sessions and counseling to chemo patients in the Breast Cancer Department. In addition, we work with the Adult Oncology Department, Blood Bank Department, Breast Oncology Department, Head and Neck Department, ACT Department, and we are currently doing needs assessment for the GI and Gynecology Department.
Our social workers are entrusted with key responsibilities including the following:
• Counseling and guiding all new patients that are registered in the department regarding accommodations and financial arrangements
• Following up with patients to ensure that they are motivated and sticking to their treatment plans
• Maintaining a Database of information to track patients and their treatment
By providing these well needed services, we hope to eradicate unnecessary confusion regarding the navigation of treatment options and the logistical navigation of hospital resources. We hope to reduce unnecessary wait times and confusion, and to help more patients get the treatment they need in a faster and more efficient manner.
Our partnership with the Indian Cancer Society is helping to provide cancer patients who are travelling to Mumbai for cancer treatment with accommodations.
The Indian Cancer Society has a multifaceted approach to assisting in the fight against cancer. From centers and mobile units to assist in detection, to financial assistance and patient accommodations, the Indian Cancer Society is helping ensure that survival rates will not be based on socio-economic status.
Palliative care, including access to pain relief is an urgent humanitarian need worldwide for children and adults with advanced cancers.
Understanding the huge need in this area the foundation is supporting a service program to initiate a Geriatric Palliative Medicine Clinic in Tata Hospital.