Laxmi Mohanta, India
Despite a shortage of human resources for health in India, some progress is being made
Every day is different for Laxmi Mohanta, Taramara's popular community health volunteer. The intelligent and eager 27-year-old housewife has worked tireless to improve the health of her local community, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed.
More about this health hero
Since 2006, Laxmi Mohanta has happily shouldered the responsibility of working as her village's community health volunteer. Her interest and enthusiasm saw Laxmi unanimously chosen by her fellow Taramara villagers for the task, and she has worked with devotion for the 1200 population ever since.
From child and maternal health to malaria prevention, HIV/Aids awareness or first aid, Laxmi has demonstrated a keen willingness and ability to learn, which means she is able to give training and advice to the local community on a whole host of important health issues. As a community health volunteer, she performs multiple jobs for all the families in the area. During home visits, she counsels and monitors children's growth and wellbeing; on childhood immunisation, she ensures parents remain vigilant; and she works with auxiliary nursing midwives, the first health contact in any village, on a continuous basis. But her work doesn't stop at raising awareness within the community – she holds fortnightly meetings with mothers and expectant women, and always follows up on any child sickness in her area.
When it comes to birth registration, Laxmi's enthusiasm has earned her the title of accredited social health activist under the government's national rural health mission – a health scheme for villagers.
Laxmi, a wife and mother of two, is making a real difference to the community's health. Her tireless work raising awareness and educating villagers in preventative action has seen child and maternal mortality rates fall, as well as a drop in the incidence of malaria. Families have also changed their basic sanitation practices, and have given more importance to hand-washing. The traditional dependent on quacks and superstitions – something which always perturbed Laxmi – has been replaced by visits to the hospital.
Asked about her most satisfying moment as a community health volunteer, Laxmi recounts the time she accompanied a 35-year-old tuberculosis patient, a tribal farmer, on the 45 kilometre journey to the hospital after he had been refused medicines by the local auxiliary nursing midwife. Laxmi's compassion for people, irrespective of caste, creed or colour, has won her admiration from all.
Laxmi is rightly proud of her work, and the positive results are there for all to see.