Thursday, May 24, 2018

We reach, we teach, we treat

World Stroke Campaign Individual Achievement Award Winner, Dr Bindu Menon provides an insight into her innovative outreach to poor rural communities to raise awareness and increase access to preventive treatments for stroke.

It has indeed been an overwhelming moment for me to receive the prestigious World Stroke Award. I thank the World Stroke Organization and the World Stroke Campaign for recognizing our activities and giving us a platform to share our work.

It has given me an opportunity to reflect on the days when I started on this advocacy journey. 2008 was the inception of my awareness programmes in colleges and social organizations with the frequency of one programme every month. However, with each interactive programme, I realized that the fund of knowledge about the risk factors, symptoms and the burden of stroke was very low. This being a real eye opener prompted us to prepare pamphlets and booklets for our future programmes, which incorporated complete information about stroke.

I founded the Dr. Bindu Menon foundation on August 26th 2013. The foundation, a non - profit organization, was started with the focus on awareness and reducing the treatment gap. With the blessings of my parents Mr. K.M. R. Nambiar and Mrs. Bhargavi Nambiar thus, the foundation began its expedition. With the intention of bridging the treatment gap, the foundation started having regular monthly camps for patients under poverty line. Initially the foundation started with 20 patients, and now we have 204 patients enrolled with proper identification cards. We see a major difference in their neurological status with monthly free medications and good compliance. As all the patients were under poverty line, the foundation also lobbied with the Collector to provide them with pensions, which was successfully given for 40% of the patient population.

We undoubtedly wanted to extend our services to the rural areas.

With the goal of raising awareness in the rural sector, a novel project 'NEUROLOGY ON WHEELS' a first time project in the country was started. The 'NEUROLOGY ON WHEELS' is a rural oriented project. A village will be identified from the 46 mandals by random selection. The team of the foundation then visits the village with the village head being intimated about the camp in advance. We also request the village sarpanch to update the ASHA/ Anganwadi workers/ANM to prime them about the visit. There are local women trained to act as health educatorsand promoters in their communities.

The motto followed by our foundation is WE REACH, WE TEACH AND WE TREAT. After reaching the village, the awareness programme is held for all the people attending the camp. The talk is tailored to stroke risk factors; recognition of symptoms and the role of regular compliance of medicines are essentially emphasized.

Later free medical camp is held where screening and detection of hypertension, diabetes and stroke is done at the end of which the patients are distributed medicines. Height and weight are checked and their BMI is calculated grading them as normal, overweight and obese. With all these risk factors evaluation the public is counseled regarding their stroke risk according to the stoke risk card.Furthermore drug naïve stroke patients who are below poverty line are incorporated into the foundation for their free medicines.

'NEUROLOGY ON WHEELS' camps are conducted about 100 kilometers away at remote areas in hopes of being within the reaches of the rural population. During our journey in the rural stroke awareness campaign, we realized that the stroke symptoms mnemonic FAST was less appreciable to the general public the reason being almost all the people spoke in the local Telugu tongue. With this in mind for better understanding and retaining of the disease symptoms a new STROKE SYMPTOM MNEMONIC IN TELUGU was designed. Renowned Singer Dr. S P Balasubrahmanyam released it.
This initiative is also the first in the country. The stroke symptom mnemonic in Telugu is designed from the Indian musical notes SA RE GA MA PA DA NE SA which is comprehensible for every member of the public. Each musical note has a stroke symptom in Telugu. We now use this stroke mnemonic in all our awareness programmes and has been very popular among the public.

The foundation with a further view to get the stroke knowledge to the general public launched the TELE AWARENESS PROGRAMME. This novel awareness initiative for stroke has a toll free number 18001020237 which can be dialed and one can listen to important information about stroke. We receive a number of above 100 calls every day.

We have always been following the stroke campaign theme every year. We conducted an every day stroke quiz campaign on social media for 35 days highlighting the importance of 3 and half hours. Everyday the social media site received newer viewers and there was a great interaction.

The campaign on Stroke prevention in the brain fare helped us reach the entire community at various levels. We had invited 7 senior school students and teachers from various parts of the town. General public was also invited on the social media. Each stall had demonstration
of yoga, exercises, calculation of BMI, blood pressure and
plasma sugars. Food items with excess salt content and posters were displayed for better understanding. The whole programme was covered on the social, print and electronic media for wider coverage

The foundation wishes to connect with more and more people so that we can prevent a devastating illness in a majority of people.

I thank all my team members who have been with me for all my projects and rendering support in all possible ways.

And as I continue on my journey I often recall a saying by Stephen Grellet; “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Featured Post

Epidemiologic profiling for stroke in Nepal: Endeavour towards establishing database

Resha Shrestha  @avi_neuro. , MS 1 , Avinash Chandra, MD 1 , Samir Acharya, MS 1 , Pranaya Shrestha, MS 1 , Pravesh Rajbhandari, MS 1 , Re...