Tribals Benefit from Scientific Approach and Spiritual Outlook
Moneylife Digital Team 08 December 2016
This story began in the early 1960s. A group of students from various colleges in Gujarat were disturbed about poverty, inequality and the exploitation people in our society, but could do little about it then. Many of them went to the USA for higher studies.
By the late 1970s, many of them had completed their studies and worked for a few years in the US. But the dream of working for the poor in India hadn’t been forgotten; some of them chose to come back and follow the path prescribed by Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda. The result was the formation of the Society for Education, Welfare & Action-Rural (SEWA-Rural) on 26 October 1980. The initial founders were Dr Anilbhai Desai (MS, General Surgery), Dr Lata Desai (MD, Paediatrics), Dr Pratimaben Desai (PhD) and Arvindbhai Desai (MSc). 
A beginning was made with a small 30-bed hospital in Jhagadia (district Bharuch, Gujarat). Over the years, other like-minded professionals joined the group and started imbibing the spirit of organisation. Hence, the scope and range of various services, activities and programmes to serve and empower the ‘last man standing’ started growing.
SEWA-Rural is a voluntary organisation involved in health and development activities in rural tribal areas of south Gujarat with its headquarters at Jhagadia. All the activities and programmes incorporate, as well as balance, the three basic principles: social service, scientific approach and spiritual outlook. The idea is to encourage young medical professionals to work for the poor and the disadvantaged sections of society. Over the years, SEWA-Rural’s work has earned rich accolades from the government, donors and the public. It has also increased in size and reach. 
The 200-bed Kasturba Hospital runs a round the clock OPD (out-patient department) as well as indoor and emergency services in the fields of OBGYN (obstetrician and gynaecology), paediatrics, ophthalmology and general medicine. It serves patients from 3,000-odd villages as well as neighbouring states. It is fully equipped with facilities like laboratory & blood storage, X-ray and sonography, operation theatres, labour-room, intensive-care-unit (ICU) and neonatal ICU. About 150 eye camps are organised in the field every year and over 4,500 cataract surgeries performed. More than 100,000 patients are managed in the OPD, while 18,000 patients are admitted every year. About 5,000 deliveries and 7,000 operations are also conducted.
SEWA-Rural runs a vocational training centre that has a one-year residential programme to train around 150 rural, poor and tribal youths in various technical skills; it also focuses on character building and becoming responsible citizens. A 100% job placement with nearby industries is ensured and this has benefited 2,000 students so far. All these have been made possible by more than 250 full-time staff including a 25-doctor team, 100 para-medicals, and about 500-village level frontline health volunteers.
SEWA-Rural is able to mobilise funds to the tune of Rs10 crore every year from multiple sources including government grants, international funding and donations.
A comprehensive mHealth innovation (ImTeCHO) for empowering accredited social health activists (ASHAs) has been introduced by SEWA-Rural in partnership with the health department of Government of Gujarat. More than 600 village-level ASHAs are now utilising smart phones with a specially designed software to provide maternal and childcare at the doorstep with better quality and timely management in the districts of Bharuch, Narmada and Valsad (Gujarat).
The doctors in SEWA-Rural aspire to lower the maternal mortality ratio (MMR), infant mortality rate (IMR) and neonatal mortality rate. They are also working towards reduction in poverty through employment opportunities for community and empowering women through educational and employment opportunities.
Donations to SEWA-Rural have 50% income-tax exemption under Section 80-G of the Income-tax Act. 
Jhagadia, District Bharuch, Gujarat, PIN: 393110.
Phone number 091-2645- 220021, 091-2645-220868
Fax number 091-2645-220313
Mobile +91 9978228689


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