Like other friends in medical college, he wanted to be a surgeon and earn money and buy a fast car. But there was a part of him that wanted to give back to the community and make a difference.
And he did make a difference. A huge one.
Meet Dr. Avrojit Raha, the Block Medical Officer at Jirangacha Health Centre. Dr Avrojit has been the guiding force for the success of the ‘Transform Labour Rooms’ initiative in his health centre. Since the project started, the Jirangacha health centre, where Dr Avorjit works day and night, has seen an increase in successful deliveries from 230 in 2012-13 to more than 1500 deliveries in 2014-15. In 2015, so far 1000 deliveries have been conducted at this health centre.
The ‘Transform Labour Rooms’ initiative of the Government of West Bengal in partnership with UNICEF has till date transformed 36 labour rooms in Malda and South 24 Parganas districts in the state. Another 39 are in for transformation next year.
When Dr. Avorjit joined this block two years back, he didnt know where to start from. Everything looked like a challenge. His immediate priority was to implement the existing Government schemes in order to make the health centre function properly.
The first challenge was to get a power backup, so he approached the district officers and the panchayat, and got in inverters. Then he went on to solve the issue of transportation for pregnant women in labour in the adjoining villages. Now, the hospital has 10 ambulances and three more are in the pipeline. These ambulances are ensuring that pregnant women, even from the remotest areas, get to the hospital when they go into labour and are dropped back home after their deliveries. The female ward is almost always full, and thanks to the inverter, the wards have a provision of one bulb and one fan even during power cuts.
"We have to make healthcare more accessible. 60 percent people in India have no access to private hospitals or healthcare. With public health intervention and decent public health programmes, our country can be made stable," he says.
The next challenge was to motivate the ASHA workforce in the district. He did that by making them part of his vision and providing them with a room –and a bathroom attach to it- so they could wait in comfort. He made himself accessible to them at any time of the day or night.
Although he doesn't have to sit in the OPD for long stretches and assist in the labour rooms, he does it to fulfil the shortage of manpower at the hospital. There aren't enough nurses, and only a couple of doctors. At any given point, there are around 350 patients in the OPD.
He works tirelessly to motivate other staff and maintain the quality standards. This intervention has helped boost the confidence of the villagers in the hospital. Women are happy with the services and are increasingly opting for deliveries at the hospital over home deliveries. Although availability of human resources is still a challenge, the intervention has ensured the efficiency of the services.
"Interventions like these can change the lives of many people. I don't have a big car but I have a small one, and I am extremely happy. I have got a lot of recognition, but what really makes me feel good is the fact that I have been able to bring about change.”
We wish Dr. Avrojit Raha best of luck for his future endeavours. ,