Monthly Archives: April 2021

Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: Covid positive patient in Delhi slum recovers through Asha’s care

Rekha is a 40-year-old woman who resides in Asha’s Anna Nagar slum community. She had settled down here after marriage around 30 years ago. Tragedy struck when her husband died in a road accident 10 years ago. Rekha was left alone to fend for her young son, so she started working as a domestic help to earn money and survive. For the past decade, Rekha has been working hard to provide for her family.

The second wave of coronavirus in India has been like a tsunami that has swept away many lives overnight. The new variant has started to affect many people living in the slums as well and Rekha is one of such case. Around 10 days ago, Rekha started to feel ill after work, she was experiencing joint pain and weakness suddenly. This was followed by symptoms such as vomiting and loose motion. Rekha believed that this would pass away in a few days and ignored her symptoms.

During this same time, Asha had strengthened its work of fighting the covid tsunami in all the slum communities. The Asha team in Anna Nagar are going door to door and reaching out to all slum dwellers. They are enquiring about everyone’s health and informing all about the new symptoms of the new variant of this deadly virus. While doing so, they came across Rekha’s home. After hearing about her symptoms, the Asha team immediately alerted her and asked her to get tested as soon as possible. As suspected, Rekha turned to be positive.

As per the covid safety guidelines, Rekha has been isolated in a separate room in her house. The Asha corona warriors visit her every 6 hours while maintaining social distancing, they monitor her oxygen levels and provide her with the correct nutrition and safety precautions. The Asha team records her health progress and oxygen levels in the Asha Health card every single day. Currently, Rekha’s oxygen level is 97 and she has stopped showcasing symptoms such as breathlessness and vomiting. Asha is also providing her with vitamins and medicines.

With the help of Asha, Rekha’s health is stable and she is on the road to recovery. Asha will continue to monitor her health over the next few weeks until she tests negative for covid. Meanwhile, Rekha’s young son has currently lost his job due to the ongoing lockdown. He is helping treat his mother with his small savings, while he is fearful for his own life and health. Thankfully, he has tested negative and is healthy.

India is currently experiencing the worst healthcare scenario in modern history, with a lack of oxygen and beds availability in hospitals. The death tolls are rising with every passing day and everyone is fearing for their lives. Asha has been spreading awareness and the undertaking of vaccinations for all the slum dwellers. Asha is prepared to fight the second wave and safeguard the health of all in the slums.

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Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: An urgent message from Dr Kiran Martin, Founder and Director

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Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: Dr Kiran visits Anna Nagar slum community to distribute masks

Update from my visit to Anna Nagar today:

So in Anna Nagar, I found that many were unmasked or were wearing dirty masks. I gave out some 3 ply surgical masks, and found that they were really happy to receive such a simple thing as a mask. They put them on over their own masks if they had them, and promised they would double mask whenever they went out.

I left hundreds of masks with the team and the warriors. They will be distributing them to everyone in the community. I observed that mass distribution has a big effect on the community. It encourages Covid appropriate behavior and the Warriors are a lot more effective in their work.

The Warriors are doing a wonderful job, going from house to house. They are continuing to register all fever/URI patients and providing supportive therapy. They are rigorously monitoring patients with pulse oxymeter every 6 hours.

As per govt guidelines as well as our own thinking, all patients with symptoms will be considered to have Covid.

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University of Queensland-India Equity Postgraduate Coursework Scholarship awarded to Asha student Amritesh

Asha is very proud to congratulate Asha student Amritesh on being awarded the UQ-India Equity Postgraduate Coursework Scholarship to study a ‘Master of International Economics and Finance’ at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Amritesh is the first student from Asha to receive this scholarship at the University of Queensland. We wish Amritesh all the very best for his future as he beings to pursue this next chapter in his life!

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Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: Asha follows stricter protocols amidst the second wave of Covid-19 in India

Dr Kiran: ”Hello everyone, here’s a Covid update from me:

The number of cases are surging, with India reporting about 293,000 cases and Delhi 25000 cases in the past 24 hours. Delhi has the maximum number of cases in the country.

There is a huge shortage of hospital beds, Oxygen and Remdesivir. Labs are accepting samples for RT- PCR far above capacity, and as a result, reports are being returned after 4-5 days. Young adults are turning Covid positive in this wave.

There is major vaccine shortage, and at the same time, a great deal of vaccine hesitancy. It’s really hard to convince slum residents to get vaccinated due to myths and superstitions around the vaccine.

The surge in cases is attributed to a combination of the highly infectious mutant strain B.1.617, and the large crowds gathered at election rallies, religious festivals and family events.

We are going to follow stricter protocols at Asha. Every Asha team member and warrior will wear N 95 masks and patrol the streets and lanes to make sure strict Covid protocols are observed everywhere. The expert panel of the government is encouraging double masking for the general population. We will be following the same protocols.

The Asha team is trying its utmost to get everyone vaccinated. I’m sure we will be able to increase the pace when members of the community observe that those vaccinated are not demonstrating any serious side effects.”

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Asha’s Maternal Care Program has achieved high success in Asha slums

I remember one day I was in Trilokpuri slum community. It was in the year 1991. A woman who was in labor was brought to my clinic. She was bleeding heavily and was in shock. I learnt that she had been given an injection of oxytocin by a local quack to hasten labor. Her uterus had ruptured because of that. I asked the family to rush her to the hospital emergency. Sadly both the mother and the baby died.

During those years I saw many pregnant mothers who hadn’t received any antenatal care, and developed complications such as eclampsia from high blood pressure, bleeding due to a variety of causes, infections after childbirth because local untrained midwives did deliveries, complications during delivery and so on.

It was heartbreaking to witness mothers and babies dying just because mothers hadn’t received good antenatal care and the opportunity for safe deliveries. Such situations would be extremely rare in Western countries. Most deaths were definitely preventable or treatable.

The Maternal Mortality Rate was 750 for every 100,000 live births, one of the highest in the world.

We did not have a single Maternal Death at Asha last year, and this has been the case in the past few years.

Every mother has the right to experience the unimaginable joy when her newborn baby is placed in her arms, right? Instead it was a terrifying experience for them in the slums. In addition, there was the burden placed on giving the family a son.

I am so glad that together we are providing high quality maternal care to all Asha expectant mothers, and tracking them all through their pregnancy, childbirth, and during the postnatal period. Asha has trained hundreds of midwives over the years.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

They are registered early, looked after throughout their pregnancy, every patient gets ultrasounds and blood and other tests. Asha CHV’s and Volunteers give lessons on Maternal and Newborn Health.

Postnatal visits are made by the Asha Team at home immediately after birth, and Asha team members help the mother to initiate breast feeding. The mother and baby are examined well as per the Asha protocols.

The Asha baby is registered straightaway and tracked and taken care of all the way until the age of five.

The Neonatal Mortality Rate of Asha is 11 for every 1000 live births in comparison with 23 for India as a whole.

What a wonderful opportunity to reflect on these achievements on the occasion of World Health Day!

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Asha celebrates ‘World Health Day’

Hello friends, yesterday was World Health Day. The improvements in health of those placed under Asha’s care over the years have been dramatic. I think we have a lot to celebrate as we think of what has been achieved.

4 out of 5 children were not only malnourished, but had protein and micronutrient deficiency.

Thousands of children under Asha’s care are now healthy for age.

Asha’s vaccination program protects children against Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid Fever. The vaccination coverage is 100%.

Wonderful Asha news on World Health Day! More news to follow.

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Asha’s Zinc Supplementation Program successfully improves the health of children in the slums

Dr Kiran: “I remember in the early years of Asha I would see so many young children with deficiency of the vital mineral Zinc, something that is extremely rare in Western countries. The diet of these young children was highly deficient in Zinc, which is mainly found in seafood, meat, poultry, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products, and some vegetables and legumes.

Families were too poor to afford these foods. Malabsorption of zinc due to diarrhea was another major cause among young children.

This deficiency showed itself as a weakened immune system resulting in children getting frequent bouts of diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, malaria and other parasitic infestations.

I also noticed scanty hair growth and thinning of hair in young children. Many were moderately to severely stunted.

I also saw some rare cases of skin infections.

I began a Zinc Supplementation Program for all children from 6 months to 5 years of age, making sure they received 3-5mg of Zinc per day based on their age.

Later the WHO protocols included it as a part of treatment for diarrhea in children. Asha immediately began following this WHO protocol.

During the pandemic, the diet has been terribly deficient in Zinc among adults. Therefore I began Zinc supplements for pregnant mothers, malnourished women and girls, and the elderly.

Over the years, the supplementation of Zinc became a major contributor to fall in infant and child mortality rates, healthy weight and height, and much lower prevalence of diarrheal illness and pneumonia.

Every Asha child is tracked by the Team, the CHV’s and Volunteers, making sure that each child receives Zinc supplements and that no child is left behind.

Thank you to each one of you for helping us protect our children from the deficiency of Zinc that has serious consequences for children. This intervention has been critical during the pandemic with families experiencing food insecurity.”

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Asha provides Vitamin A doses to young children in the slums with deficiency

Hello folks, In the early years of Asha, I remember seeing shocking symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency in young children. These symptoms were due to severe forms of Vitamin A deficiency.

I saw children becoming blind at night, and this was followed by complete blindness due to melting and dying of the cornea.

This was because the extreme poverty meant that their diet was severely deficient in Vitamin A rich foods. These are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products that of course slum residents could never afford to consume. It is also found in red and yellow vegetables and fruits. However, slum residents rarely eat a variety of fruits. The only source I saw possible was Carrots and Spinach.

Children with dry eyes, an inflamed skin, dead corneas, frequent respiratory infections, stunting, eczema, and women not able to have babies was a common occurrence.

I soon began a Vitamin A Prophylaxis Program which meant giving children between 1-5 years of age 200,000 International Units of Vitamin A every six months. Along with this, I also began to give deworming medicines ( broad spectrum) because I saw children with many different types of worm infestations.

It is such a critically important intervention, and every single Asha child is registered on the program, receiving timely doses.

From those days when Vitamin A deficiency needed me to give children emergency Vitamin A injections to prevent them from getting blind, I have seen remarkable progress, with the Asha children all being shielded from the terrible effects of Vitamin A deficiency.

However, we must continue our efforts with urgency because the diet of the residents, specially during the pandemic with all their financial troubles, are highly deficient in Vitamin A.

Deficiency of this vitamin is rarely seen in developed countries.

Thank you to everyone of you for helping us save the eyes of our children. It is my hope that you will continue to raise resources so we can make sure each Asha child is looked after with loving concern and deep compassion.

Here are some pictures of Asha team members giving Vitamin A to our children.

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