Medical Care

How it was in earlier times, how it still is, in some cases…
The inhabitants of Ghosaldanga and Bishnubati seldom go to the doctor of their own accord, whether through ignorance, false modesty, lack of money or for religious reasons. Instead, they try to make the best of their situation; some go to the Santal medicine men. City doctors refuse to or are loathe to attend patients in the villages, not least because travelling there is so strenuous.

In emergency patients used to be taken by bicycle rickshaw to a hospital in the town of Bolpur, now an auto rickshaw is available. On account of the large numbers of patients, the lack of money or communication problems the treatment at hospital is frequently delayed.

Conditions in the villages for health and hygiene
The villagers' health was, for many years, poor. In spite of the fact that they are not starving, their traditional cuisine, severely lacking in protein and vitamins, leads to many children suffering from hunger and malnutrition. These in turn can lead to eye and skin conditions; anemia is caused by a lack of iron. Tuberculosis was and still is widespread in the villages of Bengal.

An essential prerequisite for progress in the fields of health and hygiene was clean drinking water: At an early stage wells were drilled and constructed in the villages and the school grounds.  Since then clean water for drinking and washing has been available to the villagers.

Developments over the past few years
Medical care and hygiene have improved considerably in recent years. Since 1994 the German paediatrician Dr. Monika Golembiewski has visited the villages for several weeks every year. In addition to the treatment of acute illnesses she has, above all, worked in the field of preventative medicine, for example by ensuring the introduction of basic methods of hygiene, a healthier diet and the treatment of minor ailments.

Various projects have been implemented, such as the erection of washhouses and latrines, training of midwives, provision of prenatal care, provision of protein and vitamin-rich meals in kindergarten and at school, establishment of a village outpatient clinic, cultivation of a garden for medicinal herbs, reactivation of the traditional herbal medicine of the Santals and training of health assistants.

Health assistants
For a long time, up to 2008, Leena Murmu, then kindergarten teacher in Ghosaldanga, provided essential support in the field of medical care. She looked after patients in the villages and taught hygiene and healthcare to children and young people. The herb garden in Ghosaldanga was in her care.

These days Satyaban Ray, a Hindu from the town, looks after the on-site medical care. In addition to further medical training by Dr. Monika Golembiewski he has also received training in homeopathy and the treatment of tuberculosis. He accompanies patients to hospital in the town, organizes contact to specialists and procures medication for the patients. A doctor visits the village outpatient clinic once a week.

Children's hospital in Bolpur
Dr. Monika Golembiewski took an important step towards improved medical care by building a children's hospital in the town of Bolpur. The hospital was inaugurated in February 2011; one year later it was extended by the building of a further storey.

The hospital offers children and pregnant women - above all those from the poor families in the outlying indigenous villages - assistance and medical care. Preventive aftercare in the villages is intended to supplement the treatment and care in hospital.

The children's hospital is supported by the association 'Shining Eyes - emergency medical treatment for children and socio-economic village development', as well as by the Indian order of Carmelite nuns in Bolpur. For more information, see the 'Shining Eyes' website.