An Idea is Born…
Medial relief work during Latur earthquake was an eye opening experience. Due to lack of medical knowledge survivors could not help the victims and unfortunately government medical help reached very late. So if common man was given the knowledge of ‘Disaster Management and Medical Relief Work’ it would change the face of Disaster Management in our country, Dr. Vaidya thought. After coming back from Latur he put forward the idea of training common man in ‘Disaster Management and Medical Relief Work’ and organizing them into a national organization which he named ‘Arogya Sena’ (Health Army). The soldiers of this Health Army would rush in the events of disasters natural as well as man–made and would also take up various public health and social issues. This is how the idea of Arogya Sena (Health Army) was born!
After working on this idea for nearly two years Dr. Vaidya founded ‘Arogya Sena’ (Health Army) on 12th March, 1995 at Bedse, a tiny village from Tal. Maval, Dist. Pune, Maharashtra State, along with his colleagues Mr. Satyajit Vaidya, Mr. Kamlesh Hajare, Dr. Nitin Ketkar, Dr. Vijay Setiya, Dr. Ramesh Bidwe and local youths. Since then he is been traveling extensively with a team of highly educated and dedicated doctors and volunteers, training people in ‘Disaster Management and Medical Relief Work’, binding them into a network of nationwide organization, motivating them to rush in the events of any disaster.
Arogya Sena’s disaster medical relief work…
Since the date of establishment of Arogya Sena, Arogya Sainiks have been helping victims of disasters – natural or manmade and have saved many precious lives. Apart from Latur earthquake Arogya Sena has sent medical teams and trained volunteers during epidemic of Gastro, Tal Mangaon, Dist Raigad (2003), floods in Pune (2004), mega floods in Maharashtra (2005, 2006), Bihar, Orisa, Tamilnadu (2008), drought in Dist. Nagar and Pune (2002) stampede at Mandhardevi, Dist. Satara (2005), fire at Kasewadi slums Pune (2005) and above all tsunami at Tamilnadu and Kerala (2004–05), earthquake at Kashmir (2005) and during mega epidemic of Chikangunya in Kerala (2007, 2008). Arogya Sena also conducted a massive public education campaign during outbreaks of SARS (2003) and Dengue (2004, 2005, 2006). Booklets on SARS and Dengue written by Dr. Vaidya were first publications in Marathi.
Apart from rushing to the rescue of the victims of disasters, our Arogya Sainiks are influencing ‘Planning for Disaster Management’ in their own states, districts, talukas, towns, cities and even villages.
Arogya Sena, as a movement for public health rights…
Arogya Sainiks (Health Soldiers), apart from working in an organized and disciplined fashion with the help of knowledge given to them, are expected to take up various health issues concerning common man. Up till now Arogya Sena has taken up issues like pesticides and dirt in soft drinks, worms in Cadbury chocolates, safety of swimming pools, water sports, tourist spots and roads, commercialization of medical education and profession, privatization of goverment hospitals, pollution and biomedical waste, sanitation of slums and meager provision for health in state and national budget. Many local branches of Arogya Sena have taken up many local issues like conditions of government dispensaries and hospitals, hazardous electrical poles, improper waste disposal and have been instrumental in forcing government machinery to act promptly. Branches of Arogya Sena have become powerful weapons of social change in the health field.
The movement spreads…
At present Arogya Sena has around 14000 trained workers across 10 districts, 30 talukas, 125 villages and 6 cities of Maharashtra State. Branches in many more districts are expected soon. Tamilnadu state branch of Arogya Sena was inaugurated on 24th April 2005 at Nagapattinam. 108 volunteers of nearly 40 NGO’s, involved mainly in Tsunami relief work have completed one day training. Jammu–Kashmir branch was inaugurated on 2nd October 2005 at Jammu. 134 youths completed one day training. Arogya Sena is also expected to spread its wings in many other states soon.
Issues taken up by Arogya Sena
Arogya Sena takes up the issues, studies it in depth, follows it up with concerned authorities, suggests solutions for it and does not hesitate to come on the roads if authorities turn a deaf ear.
- Worms in Cadbury Chocolates.
- Dirt in soft drinks.
- Shortage of Rabies Vaccine.
- Safety of water bodies at tourist spots and swimming pools.
- Biological waste Disposal.
- Use of National Language on Wrappers of Food products and Medicines.
- Worms in Indian Noni (An ayurvedic product).
- Fungus in IV BOTTLES.
- Hygiene of food and drinks available with stalls and hawkers.
- Epidemics of Dengue, Chikungunya.
- Privatization of Government Hospitals (Nov 06).
- Reduction of VAT on life saving equipments especially Ventilators.
- Burning of garbage.
- Provision of sufficient toilet at public offices.
- Meager Provision for health in central, State and local budgets.
A Forum for common man to raise public health issues.
Arogya Adalat is another novel venture started by National Chief Dr. Vaidya. Arogya Adalat (Health Court) conducted at Pune, on 2nd Sunday of every month, chaired by Dr. Vaidya, has provided a platform for the people to raise various public health issues and get organizational support to strengthen their voice. Arogya Sena has issue based committees, 4 members in each committee, for the redressal of the grievances. This activity has become popular in a very short time and given a new dimension to the image of Arogya Sena.
Issue Based Committees
- National Health Policy.
- Disaster Management and Medical Relief Training.
- Publications and Publicity.
- Urban (Roads, Accidents, Public Hygiene, Epidemics, Water Supply, River Pollution, etc.)
- Rural (Farmers, Drinking Water, Malnourishment, Displaced Farmers, Draught and Primary Health etc.)
- Natural and Man Made Disasters.
- Food Products and Drugs adulteration.
- Medical Education and Practice.
- Women’s Wing.
Gastro (October 2003):
Team of nearly 15 Arogya sainiks worked under leadership of Rajesh Kulkarni, Chief, Mangaon Taluka, Dist : Raigad, in 5 villages during outbreak of deadly epidemic of gastroenteritis.
SARS (November 2003):
Arogya Sena was first to conduct a widespread public education campaign and give full medical support to the hospital in Pune which diagnosed first 3 cases of SARS.
Dengue(July 04, December 2005, November 2006):
Arogya Sena was first to publish a book on Dengue and organized a massive public education campaign at Pune,Pimpri – Chinchwad, Bhosari, Saswad, Nagar during deadly outbreak of Dengue.
Chikungunya (June 17 June 2007):
Dr. Vaidya lead a team of 5 members to Dist. Kottayam, Kerala,which treated 1500 patients from Koruthodu, Chennapara and Kannamala.
Dr.Vaidya treated 100 relapsing patients at Koruthodu.
Publications: For Mass Education (SARS, Dengue, Disaster Management.)
‘Sars Che Sankat’, written by Dr.Abhijit Vaidya, published by Arogya Sena on 11TH May 2003.
‘Dengue Chi Dahashat’, written by Dr. Abhijit Vaidya, published by Arogya Sena on 18TH July 2004.
‘Disaster Management and Medical Relief Work’, in English and Marathi, written by Dr. Abhijit Vaidya, published by Arogya Sena on 14th May 2006.
Janagarjana – web weekly of Arogya Sena published on www.arogyasena.org
Arogya Sena’s Charitable Diagnostic Centre
To make medical diagnostic facilities affordable to the poor Arogya Sena took a bold step and inaugurated its first ‘ Arogya Sena Charitable Diagnostic Centre’ at Dhayari, Pune on 9th sept 2007. This centre had a computerized pathology section, X–ray and ECG facility backed by highly qualified medical team. All the tests were made available at less than 50% cost. Around 2000 patients availed benefit of this Centre. (Unfortunately because of difficulty in meeting monthly expenses the centre was ultimately closed on 1 Dec.08.)
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