BRAC University gave us the great opportunity to visit their Health Sector in Gorpara on 8th Oct 2011. Gorpara is in Manikganj. About fifteen students got this opportunity. At first we went to the BRAC Regional Office, there we met Shepani Shaha(Didi), the facilitator of our entire tour. From there she took us to a remote village area where we were introduced to the project staff- Shashtho Karmi named Shefali. They informed us that in order to be a project staff one needs to go through 18 days of training and has to be an assistant for 7 days and work with a senior.
Then there are 12 volunteer services from where volunteers are chosen to take care of the villagers. Each volunteer work for the villagers without taking any payments and they sit with different families with “Khana” every month. Khana is said to be the dinner plate/stove that is served as the identity of the family. For 12 villagers there is one Shashto Karmi and in front of us they gave the villagers teachings about taking necessary steps to avoid diseases.
She talked about sanitation, family planning and about arsenic free- safe water drinking. She also talked about doing arsenic testing to all the tube wells available in the surrounding area. Then she conducted a question and answer session where the villagers had to answer the questions asked, related to that day’s lesson. Shahnaz Begum is a volunteer working for 12 years under BRAC. About 100 patients were treated under her and according to their rule she has to go through a periodic refreshing training in about every few months.
We came to know that they usually treat 11 diseases: running nose-cold, lack of blood, cists in the mouth gastric, diarriah, kirmi, daud, itching (khujli), amasha (food poisoning), pneumonia and golo gondho. However one thing which struck me a bit is that the villagers have to pay for the medicines. Only Pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients are given complete free treatment. For TB treatment is provided for 6 months. For first incentive phase a proper designed pattern of medicines are provided. In most cases 4 medicines are ombined together into one tablet which is manufactured and distributed among the patients. According to the treatment procedure at first cough testing is undergone. If two infected pots of coughs are found then for further treatment procedure a bond is signed by the patents stating they would abide by all the rules as the treatment requires. Then 200tk is taken from them as mortgage. I got the opportunity to interview a TB patient named Md. Kamal. From him we came to know he is under the TB treatment for a month and he has been able to see a lot of improvement so far.
We also came to know from him that his elder brother died of TB and that he is very grateful to have BRAC’s support. Then the girls of our group were permitted to visit the pregnant women who were undergoing their treatment under BRAC Health Program. I got to interview a lady of 19 years old who is currently pregnant for 8 months. Her name was Shuma. From her I came to know that she was married at 12 years of age and first conceived at 17 but she had a miscarriage.
Now being under BRAC program again she is undergoing her treatment without much trouble. And she is trying her best to remain healthy. Shila, 20 years of age was also a patient and she was in her 4th month of pregnancy. Then I also got to interview Rekha, 28 years old, pregnant for 9 months. She said she is very happy and healthy as BRAC is supporting her all the way through. Her husband is a worker at Bashundhara Group and Industries and her first child (son) is in 5th standard. Next we were introduced to the Reading Glass Presentation.
Villagers went through their eye check-ups in front of us. BRAC provided them with various ways to determine their eye-power. For those who couldn’t read were provided with a needle and a strong and were asked to put the string through the needle. BRAC only provide positive(+ve) powered i. e. reading glasses for the villagers. However the villagers have to pay 130tk for single vision glasses and 140tk for bi-focus glasses. In the end we also came to know that under BRAC treatment is provided in three different categories.
At first the Ultra-poor, often known as STUP; they are provided with free medicines, free treatment and free doctor Second category is called the Shadharon, known as OTUP; they are provided with free treatments and doctor visits but are required to pay for their medicines themselves. The third category is Sharba Sreni where only doctor visit is provided for free. After this tour we took lunch ,visited Brac Arong factory for a bit and then returned to our RS campus. All in one, the entire trip is unforgettable and I’m very grateful to get this opportunity and am very proud that BRAC is doing so much for our country.