Thelamara gaon panchayat located in Dhekiajuli block, Assam has been a place where the community network is being strengthened through capacity building for effective service delivery. As part of it, Village Level Coordination Committee (VOCC) was formed for effectively linking the community federation to the panchayat. Once VOCC was formed, the members were explained in detail regarding the roles and responsibilities. The members decided that a space for VOCC to conduct regular meetings was required and that it should be near to the panchayat. Such a space would also help in maintaining constant interface between the two institutions. As per the request, a space was provided to VOCC by the panchayat.
It was during the first meeting of the Health and Education committee, the members raised a concern that many people of the panchayat have been facing issues related to poor vision and infections in their eyes. Moreover, the elderly of the panchayat have not been able to access proper treatment for their eyes due to inadequate infrastructure in the panchayat. It was mutually decided in the meeting that an eye camp be organized to address health concerns of the people. Soon, the members of VOCC approached the local PHC for conducting the eye camp, but nothing could be materialized. The women then went to the District Health Office and placed the demand, where they were told to approach ERC eye care company. The company agreed to conduct the camp and one of its representatives came to the panchayat and conducted a survey. It was found that the incidence of eye infections and related problems were high among the community members.
Looking at the situation, a date was finalised for conducting the camp through joint consultations between the VOCC members, LRGs and ERC (eye care company). VOCC members took the permission from the local primary school to conduct the eye camp in their premises. It was conducted on 16th November, 2017 which started around 9:30 AM and ended at 3:30 PM. A total of 136 villagers took part in the camp, out of which 20 cases requiring cataract surgeries and 90 cases with reflective errors were identified. Eye drops were distributed among the participants for free and few of the cases were even referred to the hospital for further treatment. It was decided that the surgeries will be conducted by ERC eye care at their hospital at a nominal rate of Rs. 999 (per patient) on 8th December, 2017. 33 patients were also prescribed with glasses which would be distributed on 23rd November, 2017. Additionally, monitoring of blood pressure was also carried out for those who participated in the camp. LRG’s actively participated in organizing the camp that included registration of patients, accompanying them to the ophthalmologist and even supporting the elderly in getting their check-up done. The representative from the ERC eye care company suggested that they can conduct the eye camp in the panchayat again as many of the members could not be a part of it due to the ongoing paddy cultivation season in the village.
The eye camp was a successful program which not only tried to address the health issues of the Panchayat but also helped the VOCC establish as a credible institution responsible for effective service delivery.
“It has been almost half a decade I am part of an SHG. But, all of a sudden I realised what an SHG can do for the welfare of the people”. Today me and my team are not afraid to organise events in our gaon panchayat and if we get the necessary support no barrier can hinder the development of our village and we have marked our identity by doing a small yet significant initiative”
Thelamara Gaon Panchayat
Dhekiajulli Block, Assam