Rural health care is one of the biggest challenges facing our country. With more than 70 % population living in rural areas and lack of qualitative health facilities, mortality rates in rural areas, especially among the elderly destitute and the most marginalised due to diseases is quite high. As per the health sector vision document (2011-2020) of Aurangabad district, the most widespread diseases and health concerns in rural areas include tuberculosis, anaemia, malnutrition, diarrhoea, water and vector borne diseases.



The MahilaMandals (rural women’s groups) through training processes have been capacity built to understand the inter-linked nature of health, nutrition and livelihood activities. The Vikas Sevikas(rural women’s group leaders who are development animators) are provided regular weekly training on health and nutrition and are taught basic facts on identification, treatment and prevention of common diseases in the villages and use of simple herbal remedies for treatment of common diseases. Community education is carried out by the Vikas Sevikas in the villages which includes providing information on various topics like types of diseases and its prevention, nutrition, mother and child care, safe drinking water, impact of pollution on health, sanitation and hygiene as well as information about public and private health care resources.The Vikas Sevikasare also facilitated to form health committees in each village which is responsible for conducting surveys of community health problems, providing community health education and planningaction strategies for primary health care and nutrition programmes. Action Strategies under health care are as follows:



Health care is provided in the villages through village clinics operated in each CLC. Medical doctors visit the village clinics twice a week and provide health care and medicines to those in need, especially the elderly destitute. Health education is also simultaneously provided. Health Camps are also a regular monthly activity in the villages. The health camps are organised by the MahilaMandals with full participation of the people. Timing of the camps and the type of specialists needed for the camps are decided by the woman’s groups. In general, respiratory and ophthalmology health camps are conducted in the villages where women, children and the aged are the major beneficiaries. About 135 cataract surgeries were provided to the elderly destitute in the past years through IIRD's interventions.



Since inception community nutrition programmes have been a core activity of IIRD. Nutrition demonstration programmes organised at field levels in various villages provide opportunity for women not only to come together but also use available resources within village communities for enhancing the nutritional status of their families. Recipes prepared on the basis of indigenous knowledge and understanding of nutritional values have gone a long way in improving the knowledge and practices of the village communities. Impact studies conducted by IIRD have revealed substantial improvements in the understanding and practice of better nutrition in selected villages served by IIRD. Nutrition demonstration programmes in the villages are used as entry point strategy and have become an integral part of field action programmes. It enables community development staff of IIRD to assess leadership qualities among village woman and observe levels of participation and acceptance of women leaders. The nutrition programmes are also linked to promotion of home gardens or backyard kitchen gardensthrough organic agricultural practices. Since nutrition education and training programmes are intertwined with action programmes in field levels, villagers participate enthusiastically to solve their basic problems relating to food security and improvement in nutritional status.