From its inception, NWTWS was mainly involved in health work. At that time there almost no facilities nearby. There were some traditional healers, but also a lot of superstition. By offering basic, honest care and treatment, treating patients with respect and in a manner in tune with their culture and way of life and not giving up on patients, the clinic soon gained the trust and confidence of the community and more and more patients came. Generally, illnesses were of a relatively simple nature: anemia, dysentery, scabies, infections etc but complicated by neglect and were sometimes life threatening. Now the disease pattern has changed with hypertension, stroke, diabetes etc. more prevalent. Government Primary Health Centres have now been established in the area and there are more private facilities also. Patients are now more ready to seek treatment at an early stage. Still a number of patients fall through the net or simply prefer to come to us.
OUT PATIENT CLINIC
Our outpatient clinic sees around 6000 Tribal patients per year. They come from a wide area of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and receive free consultation and treatment. Cases that require a specialist opinion or treatment are referred to concerned doctors or hospitals who we work closely with. Our staff are involved with government health programmes such as intensive pulse polio immunisation, ante natal care, eye camps etc. This work is funded from our own general funds.
IN PATIENT FACILITY
More seriously ill patients are admitted to our 12 bedded ward. Expert nursing care and nutritious food for the patient and attender (usually a relative) is provided. On an average, 500 patients are admitted each year. The usual stay is for 4 days. This is funded by TNHSP (Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project) Bed Grant Programme. We are the only in- patient facility in Pandalur Taluk.
A team comprising of a Doctor, nurse and lab technician, visit remote villages 6 days per week to provide free medical care at home. This service is much appreciated by the elderly with chronic conditions and by mothers with young children. Approximately 40 patients are seen each day. It is funded by TNHSP.
NWTWS is recognised under the Revised National TB Control Programme. ( RNTCP). This involves detection and treatment of cases as well as regular village education programmes. In Wynaad district (Kerala), our education and intensive outreach programme is funded by Global Round 9 and Project AXSHAYA. Community volunteers ensure the tablets are taken by Directly Observed Treatment (DOTS). Our lab is recognised as a designated microscopy centre by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Damien Foundation India Trust (DFIT) provides nutritious food supplement, for all cases in our area. Funded by TN govt, DFIT and International Union.
Over the years ,our hard working leprosy team, consisting mainly of trained Tribal staff, has detected and successfully treated more than 600 cases of leprosy, mainly amongst Tribals. This has now dropped to about 6 new cases per year, but education and outreach programme continue in the places where there were large numbers of cases previously. Our lab is the only one run by an NGO recognised to do skin smear tests in the area.
We also provide technical support and training to Govt. health staff. This work is funded by DFIT. Under the Disability Prevention and Medical Rehabilitation scheme fund, ‘Care after Cure’ and Livelihood Enhancement Programme, DFIT provide goats or cows, house renovation and nutrition supplements for leprosy affected patients.
This government sponsored testing and counselling unit has now been closed as the prevalence of cases was almost nil. however, regular and routine testing of all ante natal and Tb cases continue.