A HEALTH initiative launched in 2018 by the tribal development department for students in tribal ashram schools, aiming at early detection, real-time diagnosis and proper treatment, has resulted in the successful medical screening of 1.17 lakh tribal students across the state.
Under the Atal Arogya Vahini Scheme launched on November 22, 2018, at least 48 tribal students underwent procedures for conditions including inguinal hernia, breast fibro-adenoma and abdominal cysts. Thirteen other students were detected with congenital heart disease and operated or treated at Mumbai’s JJ Group of Hospitals.
In all, 7,033 students were admitted to hospitals across Maharashtra under the programme, said an official from the department. In addition, an Emergency Response Centre team set up under the scheme attended 16,686 emergency calls and also transported 14,009 students to medical centres.
During a routine comprehensive medical screening under the programme, Varsha Pawara, a 14-year-old student at the ashram school in Nandurbar’s Chirkhan, was found to have an irregular heartbeat. After further tests, doctors found she was suffering from an atrial septal defect, or a defect in the walls of the four chambers of the heart. In January 2019, Varsha underwent an open heart surgery in Mumbai, becoming the first patient to undergo surgery under the Atal Arogya Vahini scheme. The cost for the medical procedures are borne by the government under the scheme.
“The scheme has been made available across 291 government ashram schools in the Integrated Tribal Development Project areas of remote regions such as Rajur, Kalwan, Nandurbar, Taloda, Dhule, Yawal, Dharni, Kalamnuri, Kinwat, Pandharkawda, Gadchiroli, Aheri and Bhamragad,” said the official.
Healthcare services, especially emergency healthcare services, are very poor in tribal areas owing to poor connectivity and lack of infrastructure. The scheme, therefore, also provided 48 basic life support ambulances positioned near the ashram schools.
“The twin initiatives of the tribal development department — Atal Arogya Vahini and Digi Health Pranali — are the most meaningful, relevant and much needed initiatives to ensure the health and well-being of tribal students within our educational institutions. These initiatives help enable the department to create comprehensive health records of its students and provide timely and quality health services, including early diagnosis, surgical interventions and hospitalisation in necessary cases, in addition to preventive health care and awareness,” said Manisha Verma, Principal Secretary (Tribal Development).
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