Mokhada Community Healthcare Center
Gabriel Project Mumbai built the Mokhada Community Healthcare Center in the heart of the tribal subdistrict to provide vital medical services to the many thousands of people living in the 56 villages of Mokhada.
The Problem: Inadequate healthcare access among tribal communities
Mokhaha, the remote rural region in the Indian state of Maharashtra that lies some four hours north of the bustling city of Mumbai, is home to 150,000 people, mostly from the indigenous Adivasi tribes. The community, spread out in 56 villages over 325 square miles, has lived on this land for many generations, living off the land, cultivating their farms, nurturing their families, and developing elaborate cultures with their own traditional art, music, language, cuisine, rituals, and farming techniques.
Unfortunately, their remote distance from urban centers and historical margenilization of tribal communities has left the community with inadequate social services, including lack of effective access to quality healthcare – which can have life and death consequences.
Without adequate medical access, maternal and early childhood care is often scant and sporadic at best, with the closest hospital is hundreds of kilometers away. Children often do not receive the vaccinations, vitamins, de-worming and other basic health services that they need. The results are tragic: preventable illnesses, injury and death among mothers, infants and children from disease, flu, and diarrhea. India has the highest number of children dying as a result of preventable diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea – 436,000 every year. Reports indicate that over 53% children in India under five years live without basic healthcare facilities, and 66% of the poorest children in India receive no or minimal healthcare – in fact, poor children in India are three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the rest of the world.
In the Mohkada district, the situation is dire. For example, there is no diagnostic lab in the area, which means that the most routine procedures of blood and urine tests are sent out of the district for results, causing delays of diagnosis, extra costs of transportation, and poor communication between carers. I It can take three weeks to receive results which can, in many cases, be too late for effective treatment.
According to a report of The National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 76.7% of Adivasis report having barriers to healthcare that prevent them from receiving the care that they need. Among the myriad of concerns in accessing healthcare are the unavailability of drugs and providers (56.5% and 54.9% respectively); absence of a female health-care provider for women and girls (45%); distance to health facilities (42%); and lack of transport (40.9%).
One of the most pressing issues facing the community is Sickle Cell Anemia. Over 50% of the carriers of the Sickle gene are in India – the largest percentage in the world – with has the highest concentration among the Adivasi tribes. According to a report by Sickle Cell Disease International Organization (SCDIO), 300-400,000 Indian children are born with this type of anemia in India every year. Without effective treatment, people are at risk of dying from the disease within the first few years of life.
Yet, despite this risk, there is currently no diagnosis and treatment center for Sickle Cell Anemia in Mokhada, which is rampant.
The tribal community faces other serious medical issues, including high rates of diabetes, heart disease, malaria, oral cancer, and infant malnutrition.
The absence of adequate, accessible medical services poses an acute and ongoing threat to the lives and well-being of this community.
There is an urgent need to create The Mokhada Community Healthcare Center to serve the comprehensive medical needs of the 150,000-member tribal community.
Our Solution: A Community Medical Center
In January 2022, The Mokhada Community Healthcare Center opened its doors on a 1.5-acre site in a central location in Mokhada, and began to offer a modest menu of basic services
The Healthcare Center has been visited by the Deputy Collector of Palghar, Ms Ayoushi Singh, District Health Officer (DHO), Dr. Dayanand Suryavashi, and we are partnering with the Dr. Vasantrao Pawar Medical College in Nashik for ongoing medical programs at the medical center. The center completed a large-scale oral health screening with the Indian Dental Association (IDA) and a menstrual hygiene project with the Citizens Association for Child Rights (CACR) including distribution of sanitary pads to 3200 adolescent girls. The medical center is working closely with government health bodies like the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS), Mokhada Rural Hospital and the Nutrition Rehabilitation Center (NRC).
The local authorities are eager to expand the work that we have already begun in order to service the entire region. The medical center will house a diagnostic center for blood testing and vaccinations (whose physical construction was sponsored by the Minkus family of Chicago and UJA Fed of New York), an emergency dental clinic sponsored by the estate of Martha B Leigh), training rooms, and more.
The Mokhada Community Healthcare Center provides the following services:
Blood testing and dignostic services. GPM established the Dr. Robert J. Minkus Diagnostic Laboratory at the center to address testing and diagnostic needs of the current medical apparatus. Government Health authorities have tasked the Mokhada Community Healthcare Center with testing for Sickle cell anemia throughout the district.
Vaccinations. Early childhood and seasonal vaccinations, including COVID-19
Fully serviced Dental Clinic. In cooperation with the IDA the clinic handles basic dental care for the community with more serious and complicated dental issues referred to the IDA or other specialty dental care clinics in Mumbai or Nashik.
Early childhood health checkups, including: preventive checkups, vitamin A, iron and folic acid supplementation, curative services, growth and development monitoring, periodical deworming and malnutrition programs in partnership with the ICDS and the NRC at the Mokhada Rural Hospital.