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Registered in 1987, The Orissa Institute of Medical Research and Health (OMRAH) has been providing health services in the rural areas and urban slums of Cuttack district. The organization has also been associated with the Urban Poverty Alleviation Scheme of the Urban Development Department of Government of Orissa. OMRAH is also implementing a health project sponsored by USAID covering 106 villages in 14 Panchayats of Cuttack district. OMRAH started its interventions in 1987 – 89 with organizing health camps and providing trainings in urban slums. It later established comprehensive health care services in urban slum pockets and became the district coordinator for health sector NGO’s working in the entire undivided Cuttack district by 1992. The Project Holder, Dr. Sashimani Panda, is a Medical Practitioner specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology and has headed the Department at the Cuttack Medical College for many years. She has also received post doctoral training through the Commonwealth Senior Medical Fellowship from United Kingdom.
OMRAH has interventions spread over 18 revenue villages of Nischintakoili Block, Cuttack district, Orissa. The area is primarily inhabited by scheduled caste and other backward communities – together accounting for nearly 70% of the population. However it is mostly the upper castes that have control over the local natural resources, land in particular. Though land is fertile, the employment opportunities it provides are not sufficient to sustain the entire working community throughout the year. Wage labor is not profitable either – the agricultural laborers, mostly from the backward communities, are compensated not in cash but in terms of Bataidari (barter) system. In this situation the wage laborer puts in seed money either fully or in part and full labor, while the produce is shared between the land owner and the laborer. The practice is exploitative and discriminatory as there is neither any uniformity nor standardization of the compensation levels. The gravity of the situation is compounded by the recurrent floods and inadequate rehabilitation, resulting in marginal farmers being alienated from their land as well. Untouchability, religious fundamentalism and class-based work division in the society are rampant.
The prominent child rights violations identified in the operational area are rampant malnutrition, high incidence of infant mortality and high drop out rate among children, particularly among the 15 – 18 year old children. Child labor too is rampant. The meagerly available government health services, including the ICDS, are inaccessible for the backward communities. Consequently, women and children from these communities remain deprived of basic health care, immunization services and supplementary nutrition support, thereby resulting in a high rate of malnutrition.
- To create educational opportunities through Balwadis for pre school children and through NFE centers for school dropouts, particularly girls.
- To provide health care services on preventive, promotive and curative aspects with a focus on health education to adolescent girls and mothers.
- To develop more understanding on child centricity among the members of the Nabadingata Gramya Uniyan Sangha (NGUS).
- To enhance the scope of direct interface by the community with the government department for monitoring of the government services.
- To continue the child cultural program in the community for strategic sensitization of the community in the community mobilization process on child centricity.
Review and Impact
During the last 9 years, OMRAH has shifted its approach from service mode to a rights based mode. Initiatives have been taken for mass mobilization in the region for addressing the regional focal issue. The organization has a good rapport in the community and now the strength of the community is being harnessed by formation of people’s organizations. It is the only organization working in the coastal area of the Orissa with CRY partnership. It is the area where the social structure is exploitative in nature and we need to work towards changing the social structure to be more favorable towards the deprived.
Highlights in the review period include:
- 100% immunization ensured in all the 18 project villages.
- 125 children got birth certificates.
- 125 children got immunization coverage.
- Health checks were done for 959 children.
- 88 drop out children were mainstreamed and 54 are yet to be mainstreamed.
- 47 girl children were covered under mainstreamed education.
- 10 women’s self help groups (SHG’s) were active in analyzing and intervening in child rights violations in the area.
- Pressure building for activation of services through the community, such as the Immunization center, Schools and the Anganwadi center.
- ICDS centers were activated in 5 villages.
- 8 Village Committees actively worked for the development of their villages, especially regarding the involvement of the landless in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
- To develop a greater understanding on child centricity among the members of the community organizations in the project area.
- Strengthen and speed up the process of people centric advocacy in different community based organizations.
- To enhance the scope of direct interface by the community for monitoring of the government services.
- To continue the child cultural program in the community for strategic sensitization of the community and community mobilization process on child centricity .
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