Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a healthcare NGO Helping Hand Foundation (HHF) from Hyderabad in south India has been a source of respite for the poor people in the region. At the 3 women-run health clinics operated from mosques in the region, the HHF has been able to treat over 25000 patients free of cost. Through these health clinics operated from mosques, HHF introduced unique health programs like weight loss, physical fitness by setting up some equipment for exercises, ophthalmology, community dentistry, community NCD prevention and control & mid-day meals for children – all free of cost.
Nikhat Fatima | TwoCircles.net
HYDERABAD – During the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown in India, the Helping Hand Foundation (HHF), a healthcare NGO, set up relief and health clinics at three mosques in Hyderabad. The health clinics at these mosques were set up to cater to the needs of the poor people living in the area.
The mosques were turned into health clinics catering to the health needs of the poor who could not afford medical treatment due to lack of finances as most of them were daily wage labourers, and were out of work and could hardly afford any medical treatment.
Helping Hands Foundation (HFF) is running clinics at three mosques, which include Masjide Mustafa, Masjide Mohammadia and Masjid e Omer located in the suburbs of Hyderabad. The free medical aid provided by these clinics proved to be of invaluable help to the people living in Wadi-e-Mustafa, Rajendranagar, Osmannagar, Nawab Shah Kunta, Shaheen Nagar and other areas of Hyderabad.
A year after starting the clinic, the Helping Hand Foundation, which is supported by SEED (Support for Education and Economic Development) the USA, has catered to over 25,000 patients treated by an all-women team comprising doctors, nurses, lab-technicians, counsellors, dietitians, paramedics, attendants and care-givers in the Masjid Mohammed Mustafa in Wadi-Mahmood.
Through these health clinics operated from mosques, HHF introduced unique health programs like weight loss, physical fitness by setting up some equipment for exercises, ophthalmology, community dentistry, community NCD prevention and control & mid-day meals for children – all for absolutely free.
“Through our clinics, we have helped people save themselves from quacks and also saved their money. Roughly we have saved expenses worth Rs. 1.25 crores of the community,” Mujtaba Askari, CEO of Helping Hand Foundation told TwoCircles.net.
The services rendered include treatment for gynecological problems; hypertension, diabetes, risk of NCD, with women having grade 2 obesity being put on a diet and fitness programme. Visual impairments were also treated at the clinic.
“Many women were not aware of their health problems and they suffered from diabetes, hypertension, hyperthyroidism. Due to their lifestyle and family history, they are also at risk of suffering from NCD (Non-communicable diseases),” Dr Zareen Fatima, one of the doctors at the health clinic, said.
“Timely diagnostic tests helped many women to avail treatment and recover soon before their health issues got complicated,” she said adding that “If a patient comes to our clinic, we ensure that she is given complete treatment. For more serious complicated treatments, we refer them to other hospitals run by the Government. We also have counsellors at the government-run hospitals who follow up ensuring their recovery.”
Even children suffering from congenital diseases are referred to hospitals that specialize in pediatrics. Ante-natal care is given to women after childbirth. Over 100 malnourished children have been provided with Mid-day meals comprising white Rice, Pulao, Veg Biryani, with Dal, Vegetables, boiled eggs were served from the community kitchen run by HHF.
“We also conducted a survey in the 30 areas surrounding Masjid Mohammed Mustafa with 500 women to study the impact of the health services we provided,” Mujtaba Askari said.
The findings of the survey found that “there was a general improvement in their health due to good quality primary care and timely medication & the need to visit clinic significantly reduced from 2 to 3 visits per month to almost negligible.”
The women, who were surveyed, said apart from medication, counseling by family physicians gave them a lot of moral support and confidence to battle the illness.
“20% of long-term patients suffering from chronic illness have expressed improved psycho-social issues, which have significantly improved family bonding,” Mujtaba Askari said, adding, “In 75% of patients with chronic illness futile treatment, doctor shopping, visiting quacks has reduced stress and well-being.”
The survey also found that 95% of women said the free treatment at the clinic has helped them save up to Rs 500/- to Rs 1000/- per visit and this has helped them saved approx. Rs 3000 to Rs 5000/- per month.
“Increased saving has helped many foot the bill of ration and pays for the education of children,” Mujtaba Askari said.
Summing up, Mujtaba Askari said that they are happy that “We have successfully brought multi-dimensional interventions at primary care level which has helped prevent, control chronic diseases in vulnerable sections and has had a huge socio-economic impact.”