Pirgacha Parish is located in the heart of the Bangladesh Madhupur Forest. This is a parish for the Garo Tribal people with about 12,000 Garos and many Muslim Bengalis and Hindu Koch Tribals. Fr. Homrich, CSC started the Clinic and little hospital in 1993 when he saw the desperate medical needs of the people especially children. The population is very poor and the medical facilities, especially for the women and children are very bad. Health education is our priority especially for women and young girls. Delivery and natal care has reduced the death rate with basic primary health care in all the villages and has made for a much healthier population. The medical needs have been reduced because of the toilet slab project and the drinking well project, pre-natal care and clean deliveries. Nutrition projects have made for healthy bodies and longevity because of better health. Home deliveries were a nightmare and led to maternal deaths and infant mortality.
Basic Primary Health Care: Health Education: The future village leaders, boys and girls live in the boys and girls boardings runs on the "Pir"system. Three hundred and fifty High school students get not only a High school education; they learn health care and the means to obtain this. Regular classes on personal hygiene, HIV/AIDS, inoculation, gardening, use of soybean as protein, exercise and sports has made for a healthier youth population. Teams also visit the 24 Primary Schools and High school giving health education. The Garos used to be the shortest people in India. Now with better health care and nutrition they are taller and healthier.
Promotion of better nutrition: Family Gardens and new crops have made for higher yields and more nutritional food such as broiler raising, soybean cultivation, pig raising, goat and rabbit growing with improved varieties. We worked last year with the Mennonites for agriculture and animal husbandry.
Clean water and improved sanitation: We sank over 3000 tube wells for drinking and small vegetable garden. We make toilet slabs for homes. Simple solutions have reduced worms, Typhoid, and Dysentery. The people pay for everything and the change in the health pattern is remarkable. We have provided 200 toilet slabs this year.
Promotion of Child and maternal health: The African "Vita" Health program is used: antenatal care, delivery and village midwife training for Garo midwives was conducted for 48 "granny" midwives. Many women needed Caesareans; many pregnant, unmarried girls come to the Ashram. When delivered they gave us the babies. We adopted the babies in the villages in families in the Courts with the same religion as the mothers. If the Muslim girls stayed in the villages either they or the child would be killed.
Immunization: Every pregnant mother that comes for the monthly check up gets DPT. In the villages BCG, polio, and this year Hepatitis B will be given to all children.
Disease Prevention: Homes that have kalazar, Hepatitis B etc. are sprayed. Last year we had 30 kalazar cases in Pirgacha villages with 7 deaths in the region. Homestead cleanliness, neat barnyards and pigpens have reduced diseases.Kalazar is common and is a slow killer.
Treatment of ordinary sickness is done from the small clinic. If we cannot handle the cases the sick person is referred to Mymensingh, Mirzapur, Madhupur, or Dhaka for better treatment.
Pregnancy tests and ordinary medicines are sold at reduced prices. The fifty teachers in the villages are also trained on how to treat ordinary ills.
Staff: In our Bethany Ashram one male and three female nurses have been working. The staff is Government registered and trained.
Our simple Bethany Ashram has made a lot difference in Health education and treatment in our area. Simple "adobe" buildings with two wards and living quarters for the three nurses’ midwives and the project manager have proven very useful and helpful for the poor villagers. Snakebites are very common and we trained the staff to treat snakebites. We treated over 300 snakebites every year with no deaths.. The medical program is mostly for children or their mothers but we treat general patients, especially snake bites. We have four deadly snakes in this area.
Finance of the medical program is very necessary and has changed the lives of thousands of people.