Educational Initiatives of Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs (RUHSA),Christian Medical College
“Training towards a better rural health care delivery system in India since 1977”
A dedicated partner of the CMC’s mission to develop compassionate, professionally excellent, ethically sound individuals who will go out as servant-leaders of health teams and healing communitiesthrough education and training
Over the years, RUHSA has steadily grown into a model that showcases strategies to improve rural health in India and other low resource settings.
118 years old CMC, Vellore, South India, one of the top medical colleges with a five-star rating by the National Accreditation Council & University Grants Commission, attending to 2.5 million patient visits annually has been running 19 post-graduate level programmes offered as MD/MS , 22 Higher Specialty programmes at the DM and MCh levels , 11 PG Diploma programmes, 5 MSc programmes, 6 Post-Graduate Fellowship programmes, and around 43 post-doctoral fellowship programmes and a wide range of about 40 Allied Health Sciences programmes . Yet these regular training programmes of CMC were not in themselves sufficient to answer today’s health care challenges in India, whose roots run deep into every aspect of human life including rural poverty, lack of education, rising non-communicable diseases, harmful health behaviors, poor community awareness regarding health, poor access to health care, high unemployment rates among rural youth, failing agriculture and many others. Towards these problems confronting the health system, ‘RUHSA initiative’ of CMC, from its inception in 1977,has put together short and long term training programmes and educationalworkshops for health care professionals and mid-level health care providers who could join hands with physicians to address some of the health, social, and cultural barriers that impact rural health. The role of Mid-Level Providers has been progressively expanding and receiving attention, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, as a strategy to overcome health workforce challenges and improve access to essential health services. They have the potential to improve distribution of health workers and enhance equitable access to health services, while retaining high quality standards.
If one plots a graph charting the educational initiatives of RUHSA over the last 4 decades, it would be an interesting piece, visually representing RUHSA’s contributions towards Community Education- Key to Better Health Care in India!
Overview of the special training programmes
Post Graduate Diploma in Community Health Management, a one-year course
The PGDCHM course was started in July 1983 with technical assistance initially from Voluntary Health Association of India and financial assistance from ICCO, Holland and Church World Service, New York. The objective of the course was to train mid-level health professionals to be effective members of the health care team in the country, skilled to plan, implement and manage community health and development programmes. We have trained about 200 candidates and some of them have gone on to become leaders of NGOs in many States.
3 years Bachelor’s degree training for medical sociologists
Medical Sociologists are trained to assess the qualitative experiences of the patients, often working at the boundaries of public health, social work and demography to explore phenomena at the intersection of the social and clinical sciences. The graduates are qualified to work in hospitals, nursing homes, or social service agencies that provide assistance to those with medical problems and disabilities. They are employed to provide social support for patients and to be effective patient advocates between physicians and patients to facilitate treatment. We have trained 17 candidates since 2011and 15 are currently in training.
Other Training programmes
The training initiatives of RUHSA also include, tailor made programmes for small health care organisations/health care teamstowards growing or transforming their programmes. About 100 candidates received training under a 4-month certificate course on Integrated Rural Development from 1981 to 1991 and about 647 were trained inCommunity Organisation and Development from 1982 to 1997. These efforts were mutually beneficial to NGOsfor their restructuring and expansionand to RUHSA for acquiring valuable insights and understanding processesof delivering health care in low resource settings,and thereby develop new ideas and models of training programmes.
RUHSA developed ad-hoc training workshops on Curriculum Development, Participatory Rural Appraisal, Project Formulation, Leadership, Managerial Skills, Health Communication, Pre-School Education, Women’s development, Street Theatre and so on and trained more than 4000 candidates since 1989.
More recently, workshops themed “Educate, Screen andTreat” were organised to train Cervical and Oral Cancer Prevention teams from interested mission hospitals and other organisations. The low-tech methods recommended by WHO for screening and treatment of Cervical and Oral cancer were introduced to the participants to ensure the effective translation of scientific discoveries into routinepractice
Centers of trained Cervical and Oral Cancer Prevention teams
Orientation to Integrated Health and Development Model for Rural Health Care
About 9500 Nursing(BSc) students, mostly from the 3 Southern States have gone through the 1 week-intensive exposure training course since 2003 to sensitise them to rural health needs and components of a model rural health care programme. Significant number of International Students especially from the Global Health Stream has spent time in RUHSA understanding the Health and Development Model promoted by RUHSA for rural health care in India and other low resource settings
Under-privileged Youth training for Employment through Community College courses
The 2011 census showed that 68.84% of the total Indian population is distributed in 640,867 villages, indicating that initiatives aimed at boosting employability in India require strong rural empowerment programmes. In view of this, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi launched the Skill India campaign in 2015, which seeks to efficiently utilise human resources towards a productive economy. RUHSA, having recognised this need for improved health in the rural areas back in 1982, set up a vocational training centre then, which, in 2000 wasunder the umbrella of Community College: an inclusive institution to providecontinuing employment-oriented education to economically and socially disadvantaged groups.Five courses are currently in place at the RUHSA Community College, offering training in Automobile Four-Wheeler Mechanism, Automobile Two-Wheeler Mechanism, Electric Wiring and Motor Rewinding Mechanism, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Mechanism, and a Beautician’s course; they are affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU) and the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). We have trained about 4800 young men since 2000 and 24 women since 2015 and the ongoing surveillance has shown that about 85% of them are gainfully employed.
TNOU Graduation Ceremony
Students at the Workshop
In the year 2004, when the southeastern coast of India was hit by the tsunami, the RUHSA Community College took in 175 students from the Nagapattinam district, providing accommodation, food and training, free of all charges. Aided by the guidance of the institution, more than 60% of them went on to begin their automotive careers in Singapore and the UAE. Such has been the impact of this community college, compassionately raising a powerhouse of professionals from a humble corner of the country.
RUHSA will continue to expand and innovate in educational initiatives to deliver quality health care for the rural and marginalized communities in India and other low resource settings.
The story of Yuvaraj
Mr. Yuvaraj, one of four children of a farmer from the KV Kuppam Block, joined the Four-Wheeler Mechanism course at RUHSA Community College in 2007, as a sixteen-year-old. He had failed to clear the Grade 10 level in school and had subsequently dropped out of school. With a family income that covered very little of their needs, Yuvaraj began his six months of training at the community college, moving on to AGS Garage at Gudiyatham to complete the latter half of the course in on-site practice. He started out with a daily wage of Rs. 30 at this garage, which was raised to Rs. 300 after a month, in light of his deftly applied learning and skill. He managed to set aside enough from this earning, to enter a savings scheme. So when the owner of the garage expressed his intent to sell the service station, Yuvaraj, now twenty-four years old, bought it from him at Rs. 80,000. Today, he makes a monthly earning of Rs.30,000, and oversees two workers in his employment. Most importantly, he has been able to afford a comfortable life for his family and is now looking to build his own house.