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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 Urban Development Department of the Government of Orissa. CRY has been supporting the organization since 1997 – 98 to provide comprehensive health care services in the target area. Besides this, OMRAH is also implementing a health project sponsored by USAID covering 106 villages in 14 Panchayats of Cuttack district. OMRAH started its interventions with organizing health camps and providing trainings in urban slums and later establishing comprehensive health care services in urban slum pockets. It also became the district coordinator for health sector NGO’s working in Cuttack district. 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 the 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 labourers, mostly from the backward communities, are compensated not in cash but in terms of the Bataidari system (where 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 – household work, petty businesses and agriculture being the prime absorbers of child labor and child work. 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 and immunization services and supplementary nutrition support thereby resulting in a high rate of malnutrition. In this backdrop, OMRAH intervenes to initiate & sustain participatory interventions to promote rights of children & adolescence and empowerment of women, with a focus on health & well being.
- To undertake scientific activities and research for development of a health care system suitable for the present day society with all its socio-cultural environments.
- To promote reproductive and child health services among the disadvantaged population.
- To initiate activities on a wide spectrum of socially relevant problems including child rights, women empowerment, care of the elderly and improvement of livelihood.
- To disseminate knowledge relating to ecological balance and mitigation of disaster related risks.
- To strengthen grass root democracy by capacity building of Panchayat Raj Institutions.
Review and Impact
Over the initial years, OMRAH focussed on organizing health camps and providing trainings in urban slums and later establishing 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 current intervention aims at sustaining rights based programs to ensure holistic development of all children.
Major achievements include
- Birth registration was ensured for 61 new born children (0 – 1 year) and 64 older children (1 – 2 years).
- 959 children and 228 pregnant women were covered through health check up programs.
- 85% children were covered through immunization programs.
- 8 Health Committees were activated and 11 functional Committees were strengthened.
- Vigilance groups for disaster mitigation were formed in 8 Panchayats.
- 88 drop out children were mainstreamed back into schools and 54 are yet to be mainstreamed.
- 10 Village Education Committees were functional.
- 10 children's collectives, 6 adolescent boy's collectives and 18 adolescent girl's collectives were strengthened through information support and capacity building.
- OMRAH also collected village level data for facilitating the community empowerment process, including monitoring of basic services and capacity building of community leadership groups.
- 1 Children’s Convention was organized.
The organization strengthened the Navadingata Gramaya Uniyyan Sangha and the village level community groups and collective action was promoted. A visible shift towards the rights mode, i.e. from direct action with children to larger mass mobilization was observed in OMRAH's activities. Community participation was evident in the local development processes. Field based activities during the last eight years have helped OMRAH to develop good rapport with the community. Interventions with the community have resulted in increased awareness among the community on education and health issues. Interface between the community and government departments has been established and is resulting in activation of government services and facilities.
- Direct action by the community groups towards activation of services like schools, immunization centers etc.
- To enhance the scope of direct interface by the community for monitoring of the government services - platform will be created where the community will be able to interact with the government officials and continuous monitoring is done.
- To continue the child cultural program in the community for strategic sensitization of the community for community mobilization process on child centricity.
- Community leadership building process will continue, including orientation on structural issues of the society.
- Strengthen and speed up the process of people centric advocacy and organization building process of the Nagadingata Gramya Uniyan Sangha, including knowledge of child rights issues.
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