This new space is being initiated in 2016 as we begin the Silver Jubilee celebration of the SOCHARA journey which began on 16th April 1991 when the Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA) was legally registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act 17A (1960). Beginning from this Jubilee Year we will begin to upload historic documents from this creative and collective journey.
When it all began !
The first upload are the Notes on a year of travel and reflection by two faculty members of the St. Johns Medical College, Department of Community Medicine (Drs Thelma and Ravi Narayan) who spent the year-1982 travelling and reflecting on the community health movement in the country and spending time with many pioneers in their own projects and with many doctors, nurses and community health workers trained by them in St Johns in the preceding years. This document in some ways was the precursor of the study reflection, action, experiment from January 1984 which led to the evolution later of SOCHARA.
Moving beyond the Medical College....
Soon K. Gopinathan also a staff member of the same department at St Johns Medical College quit his job and joined them followed by Krishna Chakravarthy who was working in a construction company. The four of them are often considered the co-initiators of CHC.
mfc comes to Bangalore...
The Bhopal stimulus!
The Bhopal Gas Disaster was a very significant event for both CHC and mfc since involvement in responding to the many needs that were expressed by mfc friends and SOCHARA contacts led to a very sustained involvement in the health response, the research exploration and in understanding the socio-political context of one of the world's largest environmental disaster. Two documents of this phase are of great historical significance. The first is a pamphlet outlining the main findings of the mfc team that undertook a civil society initiated socio-epidemiological survey of the victims of the gas disaster. The second is a health comic in Hindi designed by Eklavya which draws out the main findings of the study and creates a important information source for victims of the disaster on what is happening to their bodies. medico friend circle volunteers spent time with the local community interacting with them using the comic and empowering them with this knowledge. Looking back this was a very creative and innovative knowledge translation initiatives much before KT became important in research circles.
Building 'community health' from the grassroots !
Two years after the SOCHARA experiment started the co-initiators wrote their first report for wider circulation which is also uploaded Community Health : the search for an alternative process. This Report of a study-reflection-action experiment by Community Health Cell, Bangalore. January 1984 - June 1986 was mimeographed and circulated primarily to all those who are acknowledged in the appendices of the report since they were the group of community health action initiators with which the CHC team interacted in the early years. This report has been reprinted as formal publication in 2011 under the title Community Health: In Search of Alternate Processes.
Strengthening the health collective !
In February and March 1988, The Community Health Cell (CHC) Team brought together 24 of its main partners and contacts for a two day meeting (7th Feb and 6th March 1988) to
explore 'Community Health Action and Networking in Karnataka'.
The report of this meeting which was brought together as a first newsletter of CHC highlights key issues and concerns and important collective ideas for action which emerged in the early years.
Two important features should be noted by the readers of this first newsletter.
i). CHC presents itself as a resource group promoting and facilitating, the enabling dimension in health care with a socio epidemiological approach in planning and a participatory ethos in management.
ii) CHC promotes a network of community health action initiators and enthusiasts which in 1988 consisted of around 22 people listed in this document (excluding CHC team) who could be called the pioneers of the 1980s.
See list. iii) This newsletter also highlights the concept of 'three wise men' who were like a Wise Counsel for the initial experimental years when the project was study-reflection-action-experiment. These were Dr C M Francis, (Ex Dean of St Johns), Fr. Claude D'Souza (Sociologist and Jesuit Educationist and Dr George Joseph (Retired Professor, Community Medicine, AIIMS Delhi) and the three of them met the team of co-initiators and pioneers regularly during this phase.
The Pioneers of CHC !
The experimental phase of the project was supported by the Centre for Non Formal and Continuing Education, Ashirvad, Bangalore-560 001 from 1984 till 1990. Though there were four key initiators in Jan 1984 there are, nine core team members by March 1988, listed in this newsletter, who can be considered the pioneers. Apart from the four co-initiators mentioned above these included Drs Mani Kalliath and Shirdi Prasad Tekur-both Johnites and M S Nagarajan, V Nagaraja Rao, S John, S J Chander and Kumar. These eleven are considered the pioneers of CHC which was based in the Centre for Non Formal and Continuing Education based in St Marks Road till 1990. See photo....
From the Cell to the Society !
The Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action was established in early 1991 and became a registered Society under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act on 16th April 1991. The Memorandum of Association with Rules and regulations and amendments is here.
The Six objectives of the Society were:
1) Create an awareness in the principles and practice of community health....
2) Promote and undertake research in community health and health policy in: i) Community healthcare systems ii) Training of health personnel iii) Interrelationships between health and development iv) Medical pluralism and integration of medical systems...
3) Develop a documentation cell as well as a library of educational materials in community health
4) Evolve educational strategies that will enhance the knowledge skills and attitudes of people involved in community health and development
5) Dialogue with health planners, decision makers and administrators to enable the formulation and implementation of community oriented health policies
6) Promote and support community health action by non governmental voluntary groups...
The founding members of the society are Dr. C.M. Francis, Claude D'Souza, A Arumugham, Dr. Ravi Narayan, Dr. Thomas M J, Valli Seshan, Dr Mohan Isaac, K Gopinathan, Dr Mani Kalliath, Dr Thelma Narayan and Dr Shirdi Prasad Tekur.
Reaching out !