Health awareness program during this Dussehra & Diwali

In an innovative endeavour to create awareness about a range of health issues, the Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) in association with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has involved folk troupes to disseminate educative messages in an entertaining manner, especially during the forthcoming Dussehra-Diwali festivities.

Targeting migrants who come home during the festive season, OSACS launched an ambitious campaign on Monday, under which nine IEC (information, education and communication) vans of trained cultural troupes will visit nine districts.

Health minister Damodar Rout flagged off the vans, which will cover the districts of Angul, Balasore, Bargarh, Balangir, Rayagada, Ganjam, Khurda, Koraput and Sambalpur between 3rd October and 3rd December.

Rout said the vans with folk troupes on board will display informative exhibitions on issues of HIV/AIDS, reproduction and child health (RCH), tuberculosis, malaria and so on. “The vans will create awareness on multiple health issues at the same time,” the minister said.

Each van will be accompanied by a mobile health unit (MHU). With one session per day, an MHU will provide services at 25 sites per month and IEC publicity van will cover 125 villages per month. Coinciding with the IEC van-MHU movement, social organizations will open condom promotion stalls at various places.

“A lot of migrants come to their native villages to observe Dussehra, Kumar Purnima and Diwali and stay for at least two months. We will reach out to these returnee migrants and their spouses during these days,” said an OSACS spokesperson.

The districts where the IEC vans will visit are considered high incidence areas for HIV/AIDS. According to OSACS figures, of the total 26,127 HIV positive cases in the state (as on August 31, 2012), the highest 9,893 are from Ganjam. Others include 1,447 from Koraput, 1,185 from Khurda, 1,135 from Sambalpur, 841 from Angul and 578 from Balangir.

Of the 1,569 AIDS patients in the state at present, 503 are from Ganjam alone. Of the 1,347 HIV/AIDS deaths so far, Ganjam has contributed the highest 433 followed by Koraput at 148. It is below 100 in each of the other districts.

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