By Subhalakshmi Ganguly, AVP – ICTPH
How does a non-profit research organisation that is based in an urban city like Chennai hope to provide healthcare services to villages that are over 350 km away? While staff from ICTPH have been working in rural Tanjore for a significant while now in developing healthcare professionals, designing training programs, conducting workshops, managing ground logistics and setting up village health clinics (RMHCs) – none of this would have been possible without the support of our diligent and dedicated field staff.
Our partner organisation, SughaVazhvu, led by Sridhar Subramaniam and our team of doctors and nurses, such as Dr. Sharadha and Nurses Lavanya and Madhu among many others, as well as our newly trained SughaVazhvu Guides (SVGs) are critical facilitators and human resources in our objective of delivering high-quality healthcare to rural Tanjore. However, the day-to-day commitment and hard work provided by our wonderful field staffers is what enables ICTPH and SughaVazvhu to work hand-in-hand to ensure that our projects are implemented well and continuously supported even when the ICTPH team is away from the field.
From procurement of materials and tools, organising meals and transportation logistics, providing Tamil translation for staff and guests alike, delivery of medicines to the clinic, monitoring staff schedules, administering staff salaries, and maintaining critical relationships in the town and villages in Tanjore, our field staffers take care of every detail that enables us to carry forward our work. Behind every description of our field projects in this blog or anywhere else in our organisation, there is the presence of the energy and talent of a team of individuals who have seen through multiple tasks from beginning to end.
Like the rest of my teammates, I’ve always understood the critical role played by field staffers like Jayachandran and Ratinam in the work I am able to do for ICTPH. When I first start visiting the field last year, I realized how much I depended upon the field staff’s help in language translation and insider knowledge of the village and its workings. But nowhere was this resource more invaluable to me than the preparation and work that was required in hosting our summer GIP interns in Tanjore through the months of June to August in my role as coordinator of the Global Internship Program.
Jayachandran and I worked together to ensure that the logistics for securing housing for 12 interns, providing daily meals and water, maintaining an efficient and functional office space and relevant technology, providing transportation to the villages and RMHCs, helping with medical emergencies, managing clinic and village visits for fieldwork between staff and interns, and even organising and providing information for entertainment and weekend travel, were all carried out as smoothly as is possible in this rural part of India. While I was away in Chennai during the weeks, Jayachandran and the entire field staff provided all logistical help to the group of interns and by the summer’s end, the entire GIP group was full of praise for their hard work and perseverance. Most importantly, field staff took more than an interest in the research and individual projects that each intern was working on. Interns also relied greatly on the knowledge they gained in interviewing field staffers to better develop their research projects as well as the ease with which field staffers were able to communicate their questions and instructions to the villagers. This synergistic team effort was critical in ensuring smooth logistics and project work for everyone involved.
In order to share the importance of our field staff to the work that ICTPH does in Tanjore, we will be sharing profiles of these outstanding individuals and how they came to work on our team as well as their individual contributions to our projects. Look for these blogposts coming soon!