The Future of Preventing Silicosis

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On June 23rd GRAVIS organized a comprehensive day-long workshop on Silicosis in partnership with the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF). A series of expert speakers discussed the nuances of the disease and its effects while specifically focusing on prevention and intervention strategies. The presentations covered a range of topics, from the link between Silicosis and TB to the way the disease affects female mineworkers as well as the best ways to prevent the disease from developing. The day concluded with a round-table discussion where workshop participants shared experiences from the field and opinions regarding the most effective preventative strategies.

Silicosis—a debilitating and ultimately fatal respiratory disease caused by inhaling silica dust and irreversible scarring lung tissue—threatens the lives of roughly 300 thousands mineworkers living in Rajasthan. Those working in stone mines are especially at risk to the disease because their working conditions consistently expose them to high quantities of silica dust. Consequently, silicosis is the result of the mining industry’s failure to adequately protect the occupational health of its workers. Once developed, there is no cure for silicosis, and patients suffer from shortness of breath and eventually become unable to work due to the illness. Although many workers are aware of the negative health effects of the mining conditions, they do not have the agency to leave their job because there are no alternative employment opportunities. Furthermore, drought and water insecurity force many villagers—who generally depend on agriculture for their livelihoods—to work in the mines despite the threat to health.

For the past two decades GRAVIS has worked extensively with mining communities in the Jodhpur and Nagaur districts, and during this time, silicosis has been a major health concern and an important focus of the organization’s development work. To combat the disease, GRAVIS programming provides diagnostic and curative medical services to at risk community members and organizes awareness trainings for workers, employers, medical professionals and government agencies. GRAVIS also advocates for the occupational health safety of mineworkers in Rajasthan and has been an essential actor in securing workers’ compensation for patients who have been disabled because of their exposure to silica while working in the mines. Some of GRAVIS’s major achievements in the past 5 years include providing medical care to over 68,000 lung disease patients, organizing over 500 medical outreach camps and over 130 advocacy seminars, establishing a major rural hospital in the Thar along with 4 satellite clinics, and conducting 3 research studies on silicosis and tuberculosis (GRAVIS’s most recent report can be found here).

World Health Day at GRAVIS: Collective voice for right to health

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World Health Day at GRAVIS: Collective voice for right to health

Healthcare is a major priority for GRAVIS, in the health services deprived region of the Thar Desert. It addresses healthcare challenges at various levels with a strong focus on public health perspectives related to prevention and education, as well as research. Through a holistic and comprehensive programme on rural health, which includes interventions in the spheres of ageing, eye care, maternal and child health, nutrition, HIV and TB, lung diseases and non communicable diseases, GRAVIS combines qualitative medical services delivery with community-based health education, training and capacity building and research. On an important event like the World Health Day, GRAVIS wishes to deepen its commitment towards public health interventions with a long term vision, and aimed at creating community based models to be replicated in needy settings across the world. The event was organized by GRAVIS on 7th April in Bap town of Jodhpur District. It was addressed by Block Chief Medical and Health Officer and attended by Senior Medical Officer of Bap Government Hospital. Pradhan and Sarpanch from local government and various representatives from Village Older People Association and like minded organization have gathered at same platform to raise their voice to generate greater awareness about health of common man.

World TB day at GRAVIS: Solidarity Against the Disease

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Globally, tuberculosis continues to be a severe public health issue. In India, the threat is even more alarming. India accounts for over a quarter of global TB burden. Over 2 million new TB cases are detected every year in India, with nearly nine million people in the country living with the disease. Hence, TB is a critical health challenge in India and needs a comprehensive approach to solve the problem. Continue reading “World TB day at GRAVIS: Solidarity Against the Disease”

Women March for Equal Rights on International Women’s Day

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International Women’s Day fell on Sunday the 8th March this year, and presented a valuable opportunity for GRAVIS to promote women’s rights issues in the areas in which we work. The day kicked off with a large demonstration in Soorsagar, a mining community on the outskirts of Jodhpur. Hundreds of women joined in on a protest march which travelled through the area, demanding equal access to education, food and healthcare for women of the local community. Continue reading “Women March for Equal Rights on International Women’s Day”

ICRISAT and GRAVIS develop models for sustainable management of community silvi-pasture systems in Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer

Dhaman grass growing in a community-based silvi-pasture system.

In western Rajasthan the common pastures resources are very important for sustaining rural livelihoods, with livestock being the most resilient component in such ecosystems.  However, the common pastures in this region have become severely degraded making the rural poor households more vulnerable to climate and market risks. Continue reading “ICRISAT and GRAVIS develop models for sustainable management of community silvi-pasture systems in Jodhpur, Barmer and Jaisalmer”

GRAVIS improved community-based silvi-pasture in Osian block with the support of ICARDA

Increasing desertification and deforestation is major concern in western Rajasthan. Due to recurring droughts and famines, the number of cattle decreased significantly. But, the hardy animals like goat and sheep increased to a substantial level, due to their ability to consume less palatable species and graze closer to the ground. State-owned rangelands on which the cattle used to graze have decreased due to degradation as well as encroachment of cultivation. The forest area in the region is also in poor shape and does not serve as a significant forage source. As a result, the total pasture area in the region has been reduced over the past four decades. If this trend continues, more grazing land will be lost which will force agro-pastoralists to migrate with their cattle. To alleviate the gap in feed resources and enhance the resilience of the agro-pastoral production system, GRAVIS has developed a silvi-pasture improvement activity targeting the common property resources (CPRs) of Baithwasia Panchayat in the Osian block. This activity is undertaken in collaboration with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and with financial support from the CGIAR Dryland Systems (CRP DS) for South Asia. Through facilitation from GRAVIS Panchayat members and local village leaders in Panchayat 10 hectares land of Karnipura which is adjoin to the Consortium Research Programme site Maansagar is being rehabilitated using a community participatory approach. DSC07248