An annual review meeting of C-NES’ flagship health program was held at Guwahati on 16th and 17th June 2009, attended by 35 C-NES staff including members of the Programme Management Unit (PMU) and Boat Clinics from 10 districts where the National Rural Health Mission-C-NES project to take health services to the unreached communities on the Brahmaputra is being implemented (for further details see section “Ships of Hope” ). Participants included 18 doctors and the community organizers from each district.
Chaired for both days by Managing Trustee, Sanjoy Hazarika, the review drew the involvement of C-NES Trustees, Niketu Iralu, the social activist from Nagaland, and Dr.Mafuza Rahman of Cotton College, Guwahati, Assam. In addition, Dr. J.B. Ekka, Mission Director, NRHM, Government o Assam, Dr.Milan Baruah, Superintendent, Marwari Maternity Hospital, and Dr.Ajay Trakroo, UNICEF, Assam, also spoke and shared their experiences and engaged in a dialogue with the staff participants on the programme and its outreach.
Mr. Hazarika expressed appreciation to the resource persons for their constant support.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr J B Ekka, Mission Director, NRHM said that Boat Clinic Programme was appreciated both nationally and internationally as an innovative initiative. He also emphasized the need to ensure quality of service and of NRHM’s backing to meet gaps, goals and targets. Dr. Ekka spoke of new opportunities under the government’s health programme which were also being developed. Mr. Hazarika highlighted the importance of good documentation for enabling better assessment of the work of the teams, dissemination as well as research.
Presentations were made by Ashok Rao, Programme Manager and Sanjay Sharma, Associate Program Manager, C-NES on the Boat Clinic Achievements and areas where emphasis need to be given. There were similar presentations by the District Community Organizers (DCOs) of all districts.
There was also a presentation by Rajeeb Bora, the newly appointed District Education Coordinator of Lakhimpur, where C-NES’ UNICEF-supported education initiative has begun in June, 2009, in addition to the existing programme at Dibrugarh. The target group of this programme are school dropouts in the flood prone, isolated saporis of the Brahmaputra, where school drop outs are common. Physical barriers to school, poverty and distance to mainland school, which in any case becomes impossible during monsoons contribute mainly to this. The main activities that are being conducted by the education initiative are bridge courses, starting feeder schools, and setting up of a school library in the existing schools with community participation.
The meeting ended with the team being divided up into three groups for intense discussions on aspects of better management and organization of boat clinics. The focus was on streamlining the process, meeting gaps and local shortcomings as well as measures which would lead to improved rates of immunization among children and women, the main focus group of the programme. Each team also met individually with the Managing Trustee and the PMU to share views in depth.
A quarterly review of the Program for better coordination and monitoring was suggested and agreed upon.