Community Health Learning Programme: Towards Equity and Action

Fellowship programme in Community Health

SOCHARA offers a unique Community Health Learning Programme (CHLP) in Bengaluru. Initiated in the year 2002 it has evolved and grown in strength in a phase-based manner, through a process of review and evaluation. Each phase consists of one fellowship batch per year over a three to four year period. The third phase which saw the evolution of the School of Public Health, Equity and Action (SOPHEA), is presently being implemented. The learning opportunity was formalized into a fellowship programme called as Community Health Fellowship Scheme (CHFS) in the first phase (2003-07) and Community Health Learning programme (CHLP) in the second phase (2008-2011).

Mechanisms such as the Academic and Research Council and the SOCHARA Institutional Scientific and Ethics Committee for review of research proposals guide the team and the CHLP.  Each annual fellowship with a well designed 52 week programme is offered to a batch of 20 fellows. Mentorship and a person centred approach to learning with a justice orientation to health are core components. Batch 12 (2015-16) of the CHLP under phase 3 is currently underway.

CHLP is a semi structured training programme for young persons. The participants set their own learning objectives based on their needs and long term goals to experience and to explore social paradigm of community and public health. They also participate in a semi-structured programme of interactive discussions and field visits which includes 6 months of Bengaluru based learning and 6 months of field project based learning.

This year’s batch of 20 fellows will complete the total 60 fellowships that have been made available as part of the CHLP phase 3 (2012-2015).  Each annual fellowship entails six months (50 percent) of theoretical collective sessions and six months of community based experience through partner NGOs and our team clusters in different states. The programme also offers flexi internships and has enrolled more than 21 fellows so far in this phase; with an additional 5 flexi-fellows who have enrolled for this year as of April 2015. The flexi-fellows join the programme at different times and spend between 1-3 months with us. A total of 30 flexi internships have been offered for three years (10 per year). In addition, the programme also provided a one month block placement opportunity to 42 students from various schools of social work and public health.

Orientation (Residential training & guided field visits)

Orientation to the diverse aspects of community health experience in India, and introduction to the social or community paradigm of health for the initial 2 months.

Field Placement (field visits, group learning and analytic reflection)

Fellows visit and get involved in one or more community health projects to understand and learn the field reality, under the guidance of a mentor 3 times for 2 month periods.

Collective sessions in Bengaluru in between field visits  (interactive discussions, input sessions, group work, and short field visits)

These sessions are a month each in between the field visits followed by a 2month final session.

Community Health practice (Develop new skills, establish field linkages)

Interns take up specific community health project based on their learnt skills in their area of interest. They submit a reflective and analytical report of their work in the end. This project is usually undertaken in the third field posting

 

The CHLP is geared to consciously maintaining the balance in gender, region and socio economic background during the selection process of fellows to reflect equity and social justice which are the core values of the organization. The programme has attracted fellows from 5 northern states, 3 north eastern states and 3 southern states of India. The majority of our fellows have been from a social work background, others were from environmental science, sociology, dentistry, medicine, engineering and law.

As part of the CHLP, the fellows, interns and students on block placement gain basic experience on the principles and practice of community / public health through the collective teaching learning process (six months duration). They also enhance their learning through field work of six months duration for full time fellows and short periods for the flexi interns and students on block placement.  The collective teaching learning and field learning are interspersed with each other through the year. The fellows also have an opportunity to  conduct a community based enquiry or initiate action on areas of interest to them which include nutrition, women’s and children’s health, mental health, environment health, sanitation, health of the elderly, street children, tribal health, urban health, disability, etc. With the exception of one fellow, those who have completed the CHLP over the past two years have gone back to various civil society organizations in different parts of the country to continue to work enthusiastically in community based health work.

Flexible Internship

A flexible internship is to facilitate the short term mentored learning of those national and international young professionals who approach SOCHARA from time to time as part of their ongoing postgraduate training or an elective. Flexible internships are available year round. The duration could range from 1-3 months subject to the candidates need.

 

Read More:

1. CHLP Phase 3 Report - Capacity building forHealth Equity in India 2016