This article is the second part of a series where the work behind a national level healthcare programme is being elaborated. You can find the first part of this series by visiting this page.
So, let’s continue from where we left off, the arrangement for the PPI day.
It wouldn’t be an over-statement if I tell you that the pulse polio programme day is carried out just like a festival. At least for us, the healthcare workers it’s like a festival indeed. All the PHC staff work together just to make this one day a special one. And it starts with the decoration work of the booths including the PHC on the eve of PPI. Balloons, coloured papers, caps and all the other stuff to attract the young ones, we’ve got it all. Large posters and colourful banners at the gates always find their place on the days of PPI.
Another unique feature of the PPI is the getting together of healthcare workers. PHC staff including junior health inspectors and junior public health nurses who reside at long distances from the PHC stay up at the PHC on the day before the D-day. Some of them even come prepared to cook the dinner at the PHC. By staying up at the PHC they find it easier to start the next day’s work early morning itself.
Sufficient number of ice-packs, vaccine carriers and cold boxes are kept ready to be used in the following days. Last minute calls are made to make sure that the vehicles and all the other resources are in hand for the next few days work.
If you’re still thinking about it, I’ll rephrase it: a festival without crackers at the hospital!
Sunday’s sunrise is accompanied with the rush of vaccines (OPV) from the ice lined refrigerators at the PHC to the individual pulse polio booths. By 8 AM, every booth is all set for giving the 2 drops of polio vaccine and that is made possible by the healthcare workers as mentioned above. All precautions are taken to maintain the cold-chain while transporting the vaccines to the booths.
At our PHC we have to hire a vehicle, use one of our staff’s car and make full use of the allotted government vehicle to transport the vaccines. We have 33 booths spread around an area with diameter of 20 kilometres.
When all the booths are ready, the programme needs to be officially inaugurated right?
At the PHC level, it is the Panchayat President who inaugurates the official function by default. I’ve been a part of 10 PPI days in the last 5 years and this year it was a special one for me personally. On January 29, 2017 my son received his first PPI doses from our President at the inaugural function.
The speeches made are usually regarding the importance of PPI, how polio is still a danger in other parts of the world, and how India was declared a polio-free nation in 2014 and so on.
At other booths, the ward members or other renowned persons residing in that area are invited to inaugurate the function.
In 2015, the rotary club of Payyannur had sponsored the PPI programme at our PHC. It is a common practice for such clubs and other NGOs to sponsor the PPI programmes. One of the good things about such sponsorship is that they cover the cost of food including refreshments for all the healthcare workers doing their PPI duty at the polio booths.
How much money will you ask for if you work from 8 AM to 5 PM?
Keep that number in your pockets because, the volunteers at the polio booths are given just INR 75 for the same work!
Will you work with such low money if they do not provide the food?
That’s exactly why we at our PHC, grind out funds to give a light refreshment in the morning and provide a lunch for every single volunteer at the polio booths. Things are easy, if we get a sponsor, otherwise the budget constraints will make you mad!
Last year, a local temple had supplied the lunch for both the rounds of PPI and they discontinued the offer this time around. Why? Because one of the volunteers complained of the “not-so-good” curries. So, guess what we did this time? We cooked ghee rice and chicken curry at the PHC and supplied the special lunch to all the volunteers and boy-oh-boy, weren’t they happy!
Do you know why we denied the sponsorship of a reputed club? Because, when we weighed the lunch wrap they gave us, it came to a meagre 250 grams! Quantity for an adult person? Yeah right!
If anyone wants to know about the type of funds we use for providing the food, post a comment and I’ll let you know by mail.
Did you know that the funds provided by NHM and LSGD cannot be used for providing food to the volunteers?
The final part of this series will be published soon. Until then, stay tuned.