During the course of examining patients in our health camps and health center, and interacting with the village folk, Chaupal has found a pattern of common illnesses that affect the rural population.
Nutritional deficiencies are prevalent in most villages covered by Chaupal. The standard diet is wanting in terms of calories, essential micronutrients, and the quality of food. For example, most farmers sell the milk they produce leaving little for domestic consumption. Respiratory illnesses abound due to the practice of smoking hukka and consuming tobacco. Chaupal has initiated an awareness campaign whereby it encourages villagers to forsake tobacco and use the money saved to increase the intake of milk in their diet. Anemia caused by nutritional deficiencies is observed to be rampant across all age groups. This is largely due to inadequate diet and poor hygiene conditions that lead to worm infestations and blood loss. Chaupal health camps provide de-worming treatments and also iron, vitamin, and calcium supplements. Allergies are also frequently observed in the patient population, especially allergy to parthenium grass that causes asthma and skin allergy.
Women in particular complain of bony diseases. This can be attributed to frequent child births and inadequate milk and calcium in the daily diet. However, joint pains mainly affecting knee joints and back are observed in both men and women over the age of 45. This is largely due to the stress caused by poor posture during farm and household work, thereby leading to early degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. Conventionally, lifestyle diseases are often associated with urban areas. However, Chaupal team frequently meets patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. These can be attributed to the combination of high incidence of hukka smoking and a traditional diet rich in fats, such as ghee, with decreasing levels of physical activity due to increasing mechanization of agricultural work.
Chaupal team has also found psychological health issues to be a common problem as well. Women, more often than men, complain of sleep disturbances and anxiety. Alcohol, drugs, and substance abuse are swiftly climbing up the charts of social maladies in Haryana villages. Chaupal has found these to be related to the psycho-social burden inflicted on the newly rich and the poor by the sudden inflow of wealth created by selling agricultural land to development projects for large sums of money. The addiction to drugs and alcohol is an especially serious problem among the village youth many of whom are drop-outs from schools and colleges. Chaupal camps also encounter social issues during their interaction with the village population. The status of women remains a matter of grave concern. Female feticide is commonly practised as male children are preferred to female. This is evidenced by the sex ratio of Haryana, one of the lowest in the country. Chaupal's health education programs combat this issue by driving home the message in local parlance and promoting better health for women.