By worldwide standards, the health of the
people of Kerala is very high. However, many of the state's
indigenous tribal communities do not enjoy the level of health
of the wider community. Without a healthy population, many
community ventures such as the education of children and family
ventures such as a steady income or creation of savings are
hindered or even stifled by the sudden appearance of a fever
or a broken bone. The resulting medical expenses may be out
of reach for a family that often has many other things to
worry about or the expenses may be unnecessarily increased
for individuals that do not know the health system or available
opportunities and alternatives.
Based on an anthropological and preventative health research
project conducted during the summer of 2008 by YOI volunteer
Bryan Shaw, University of North Texas at the Mannan tribal
community of Kozhimala, it was found to be the case that:
majority of illnesses afflicting the Mannan community
are fever (especially high during the monsoon season),
body pains, headaches, high blood pressure, and asthma
(all of which are often chronic rather than acute in
prevalent illnesses are chicken guinea, yellow fever,
jaundice, diabetes, dysentery, and mental health disorders.
suffering from these illnesses, especially of the first
set, frequently visit various hospitals in the area
to obtain checkups and medications.
visits often incur large transportation, doctor fee,
and medication costs that, in many cases, account for
more than half of a family's income.
are frequent miscommunications between Mannan Tribal
members and health workers at local hospitals and clinics.
This leads to many tribal members not having adequate
knowledge of their illness or how to care for their
Above all, Bryan suggested a Volunteer-based Preventative
Health Project consisting of international or Indian
individuals and groups with medical backgrounds. Such
a project would act to decrease the prevalence of illnesses
in the community, reduce the overdependence on expensive
hospital care, reduce medical expenses, aid in quality
treatment, and provide the community with the knowledge
to maintain an optimal state of health for themselves,
their families, and their community.
Medical Volunteer Program Activities
Initially YOI volunteers will be required to work alongside
local tribes people to design and build a small clinic suitable
for the needs of the Mannan Tribal village. As a volunteer
on this initiative you will be staying on site and will build
a close working relationship with the tribal community including
the families for whom the clinic will serve. Once the infrastructure
is in place YOI volunteers will workalongside local medical
professionals to deliver the service to the members of the
The program will primarily consist of preventative health
checkups of Mannan Tribal members and children in Kozhimala.
These will include simple diagnostic procedures and basic
medication dispensing, referral to local health services,
formation and maintenance of medical records, and preventative
health education of individuals and groups within the community.
Program activities may be tailored to the experience and area
of medical expertise of the volunteer. All practitioners of
the medical and allied health fields are welcome to contribute
to this community and project.
Volunteers can stay with tribal families where ever possible
and YOI also has a house nearby which volunteers can use.
YOI staff will be present on site and will cook meals for
volunteers. Special dietary requirements can be accommodated.
After work activities will be in the form of treks, camp fires,
BBQ's, games, bamboo rafting etc.
In addition, medical volunteers will have the opportunity
to take part in various medical camps organised by Yearoutindia
in association with Rotary international and other organisations.
Previous camps have specialised in dental health, blood related
diseases, cancer detection and eye camps. Camps will be at
various locations within Kerala and Tamil Nadu and will be
run throughout the year. Volunteers are not required to have
exisitng experience of specialisms, although every effort
will be made to match volunteers' specific skills to their
placement where appropriate.
and Nitin conducting the
research at the tribal village
of the Mannan
the project site
Qualifications and Benefits of Partnering
with Yearoutindia and the Community
program is set in the Mannan Tribal community of
Kozhimala near the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala.
It is ideal for a medical practitioner, nurse, or
any member of the allied health fields at any stage
in their career from student to retiree. There is
also an opportunity for optometry students or practitioners
to partner with a local optometrist in order to
provide much needed eye exams, eyeglasses, and cataract
surgeries. Yearoutindia will arrange training for
volunteers to conduct preliminary tests for detection
of vision related illnesses.
All that is required from you are the skills to
do simple diagnostic medical procedures such as
blood pressure readings, a basic understanding of
appropriate and available medications, and the ability
to inform tribal members of their state of health.
In return, you will get a once in a lifetime cross-cultural
experience. You will have the opportunity to widen
your medical experiences through interactions with
Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, and indigenous medical systems.
You will volunteer in a beautiful setting nestled
in the Western Ghat mountains and surrounded by
forest. You will stay with a local family and become,
over the duration of your stay-and even beyond,
a valuable community member. Above all, you will
contribute to the achievement of a healthy community
for a people that need that foundation in order
to progress in other areas such as education, income
generation, and overall community development.
Please note that the project
area is remote and basic facilities will be provided
by Yearoutindia. Amenities like Internet, ATM's, Fax
etc are only available at the nearest town which is
30 minutes drive away.
Please contact our volunteer coordinator in your region
for more details and breakdown of the medical internship
fees and placement availability. Duration of service
placement vary from a minimum of 4 weeks to 16 weeks.
Majority of the fees go directly towards the projects
we support. The remaining covers program related costs:
all food, accommodation, project-related transport,
and staff and project maintenance. Volunteers are
encouraged to fundraise for this project if they can.