Reaching out into the other India

When one thinks of India, one usually thinks of the bustling
metros like Bombay, Delhi, and Calcutta. Bangalore, Hyderabad or Chennai. But
in reality, India is all of these cities and many, many more other smaller
towns and villages. For some time now it has been our goal to reach out into
these second tier towns and take our intervention programmes to the patients
who live and work in these smaller but equally busy parts of the country. Over
the years we have been to towns like Patna , Indore , Pune , Bhubaneshwar and Chandigarh
where now we hold meetings annually and from where the patients and caregivers
who attend have grown into city chapter leaders in their own right .

This year too we have continued in this endeavour to reach
out to more cities like this and bring more patients hitherto not contacted
into our fold. After Mangalore and Madurai in the South and Aurangabad in
the West, last month we held a meeting for the first time in Ranchi in the

   Ranchi is the capital city of the Eastern
State of Jharkhand. Previously this region was a part of the state of Bihar.
Jharkhand came into existence in the beginning of the millennium century and is
a state rich in mineral resources. Coal mining too is a major industry. Most of
the patients from this region are farm laborers / daily wage earners. We did
not till recently have a GIPAP NOA physician in this area. A major challenge is
also the fact that neither does Novartis have a stockist in the region nor India
Bulls, the third financial evaluators , an office.

 Patients who can ill
afford to travel even to meet their physicians have to use up precious
resources to submit their documents for FE to IB offices in a different state
and are forced to travel to health centers in different and far away cities

This has naturally resulted in poor compliance from an
already depleted patient pool. Physicians feel dissuaded from enrolling their
patients because of these impediments. 


The patients from this area number around 150
and almost all of them go to treatment centres in different and distant parts
of the country except for a few who go to the neighboring state of Bihar. They
go as far as Delhi in the North , Bombay in the West  , Kolkata further
East  and Vellore in the South . Compliance in those enrolled is a big
issue and many others are denied because they are unable to complete the
enrolment procedures.

For more than a few years, one of the FOM
leaders who lives in Ranchi, Rishi and I have been trying to organize a meeting
in the city and finally it seemed to be working out this year.

Patients were identified from the addresses in
PATS ; those who came from Ranchi and cities /small towns and villages in and
around Ranchi . They were all called and invited and given the venue details
and the Ranchi contacts numbers. Most of them were going to be attending a
meeting of this sort for the first time.

Since Rishi would need help, we requested three
of our very active volunteers from the neighboring cities of Patna and Kolkata
to also come and help us conduct the meeting and serve as examples of
survivorship. Prashant, Dinesh and Shesh came and were of the greatest support
to us.

We received close to a 100 plus confirmations.
Small compared to our usual numbers but in terms of unmet needs of the region
it was enough to warrant the green signal.

On the day prior to the meeting, Rishi and I
went to meet some of the political leaders in the city to invite them to the
meeting. This we felt would ensure some much needed visibility to the patient
group’s needs as their presence meant media attendance. We also ensured leading
media outfits were made aware. More than anything else, it would help the
patients know their cause was important enough to warrant the presence of those
who made policies and those who reported them. In regions such as these cancers
go unreported due to stigma and we wanted the patients who did attend to know
we appreciated and respected their efforts .

The Media coverage in the Hindi National Daily
Lighting the Lamp – letting the light of awareness in

patients and caregivers are happy to welcome the Chief Guest
Net working

Maximo in Hindi being introduced to the dignitaries on stage

Despite heavy rains ,  ( I got soaking wet and had to go change in the middle of the events) we were happy to see
people begin to come well in time and enjoy the hot tea and breakfast .

The ex Chief Minister of the State and the
Mayor of Ranchi also came on time much to the delight of the patients and
addressed the gathering with great sensitivity .

Senior City Chapter leaders meeting with the Chief Guest
Rishi conducting the Art of Living session
The Agenda included an introduction to the Art
of Living (Yoga and Meditation) by Rishi himself who is a trained teacher , my
presentation on Max and FOM , a Compliance Workshop and post lunch , the Drama
Therapy Workshop.

One very positive outcome was that we got in
touch with both the NOA doctors in Ranchi and one of them , Dr Anup Kumar
attended the meeting. He has one active patient under him and a couple who were
denied because of their inability (sadly) to complete the enrolment process. He
also invited a few of his patients who he has on the generic.

With some encouragement, patients and
caregivers gradually opened up and lost their fear and shyness and the Q&A
session went on for a very full couple of hours. During the course of this we
were also able to provide a lot of information to both the physician and the
audience important notes on NOA guidelines.

By the time Lunch was served and eaten in great
camaraderie, the ice was completely broken and a rollicking Drama Therapy
workshop ensued .


My reward was the look of pure
pride on Rishi’s face when , after it was all over and Chai was had in a
relaxed atmosphere , the participants said they hated to leave as they were
having such a wonderful time . But trains and buses had to boarded to get them
back home at great distances.

Dr Arun Kumar who single handed answered all queries

Patients attending a Meet for the first time
Lunch time



And an added bonus , seeing how
the Volunteers bonded with the new patients and the bonding amongst them .

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