The Low Cost Effective Care Unit (LCECU), situated slightly away from the main hospital, aims to provide quality but low cost care to the poorest inhabitants of Vellore. Patients pay a nominal amount for registration, and then are only charged for drugs and investigations – even those charges are according to the individual’s ability to pay. They have set up some clinics in Old Town, the main slum area of Vellore, to get medical support to the very poorest.
We are currently funding a £30,000 project over five years to strengthen the outreach services of LCECU through community health workers. The community health workers work in the slum areas of Vellore town, educating the community to improve health and prevent illness, acting as the interface between the community and the unit, enabling referrals to the hospital where necessary. Typically those living in slum areas will not seek medical help, thinking it is unavailable or too expensive.
They particularly work with the following patients and where necessary, refer them to LCECU medical and nursing staff:
- Children, monitoring growth, facilitating immunization and identifying children with acute and chronic illness.
- Mothers to provide antenatal care, identifying high risk pregnancies, planning deliveries and providing postnatal care. They will promote breastfeeding and family planning.
- Those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD, tuberculosis, seizures and heart disease. They will provide information and check medical adherence.
- The elderly and those with disabilities, identifying and strengthening the existing community based rehabilitation programme.
In 2015, thanks to a very generous donation, we funded a new vehicle for LCECU to transport staff and patients to the slum areas. We have funded the first year of the project but still need help in raising the £24,000 required over the next four years.
This really is an opportunity to help the most disadvantaged and most vulnerable who would consider approaching the hospital directly impossible because of unaffordable costs and lack of identification (most being illiterate and not having required documentation). Any contribution would be an act of real compassion for some of the most deserving living in the shadow of one of India’s best hospitals in squalid circumstances.