Asansol is one of the largest cities in the state of West Bengal outside Kolkata metropolitan area. It emerged as a Municipal Corporation in the year 1994 by way of a merger which brought together the Burnpur Notified area some rural parts of Asansol Block and some colliery areas with the erstwhile Asansol Municipality Obviously, the erstwhile Asansol Municipal town had grown into a vast service city from the industrial as well mining points of view Gradually, within the city areas, both wealth and poverty began to co-exist side by side. Poor population of the city was localized in the clusters of crude dwellings, mostly squatter colonies, dotes all over the city area.
In the middle of 1990’s a rabid survey was conducted in some wards of Asansol Municipal area which pointed out, among other things, that the environmental health of the population of Asansol urban poor was not in a satisfactory state. The immunization status of mother and children, the morbidity and mortality profile and the health care delivery system were very poor because there were no effective preventive curative or maternal health facilities in the area.
Laying emphasis on this situation, Asansol was identified for the implementation of the Reproductive and Child Health Sub-Project. As a result the said Project was introduced and launched in August 1998, with World Bank Assistance, to address the Reproductive Health, Child and Family Welfare issues of the poor population living in 194 slums scattered around the municipal corporation area.
The main thrust of the Sub-Project was Mother and Child care through reduction of fertility morbidity and mortality. In fact holistic health care is envisaged by the promotion of accessible health facilities and the provision of satellite service centres. The core idea of the sub-project is to implement the life cycle approach i.e. care of the individual from womb to tomb. Keeping this idea in perspective the health care package starts as soon as the women becoming pregnant. Besides this, adolescent girls are also taken care of as they are the future mothers.
Community participation at different tiers is the essence of this Sub- Project and this indicates a paradigm shift from the “Top- Down” to the approach. This would lead to the community owning the project, ultimately. The community itself shares the responsibility to initiate and manage its own health related issues on a sustainable basis.
Another unique feature of this Sub-Project is providing health check-up facilities on a regular basis to the pupils of 181 primary schools located within the target area, and the involvement of the tribal population in the process of development.
Grass root level workers (Honorary Health Workers), all women, selected from the community itself are the primary health care providers in generating and emphasizing Reproductive of Child Health Family Welfare and Nutrition Awareness. The HHWs visit the schedules designed for the purpose and treat the cases at the doorstep of the clienteles and build-up inter-personal rapport. The network of health facilities starts from the Block ( 1 Block per 750 to 1000 target population ) to the Sub-Health Centre (1) Sub Health centre for 3750 to 5000 population) to the Health Administrative Unit coupled with referrals to the Extended Specialized out Patient Department (ESOPD), the Maternity Home (MH) and the Diagnostic Centre. Sub-Health Centres are not new construction under the project Spaces have been contributed by the community club, voluntary organizations or schools Sub-Centres are the nerve certres for delivering services.
After few years of the implementation of different health components under the Sub-Project, the status of urban health has been changed significantly. And its “Compendium” will speak for itself.