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Publication: The Hindu
Url: Ekam: Torchbearers of child health movement
No child should be deprived of health care due to financial constraints – this is the mission of Ekam (One-ness), a Chennai-based NGO. And the entire community is striving to give its best to ensure that the mission is achieved. Thanks to Ekam, which shoulders the responsibility of bringing the community together to reach out to the needy children.
“Ekam provides holistic health care to the underprivileged children in partnership with Hospitals, Paediatricians, Nutritionists, Social workers, Corporates and NGOs,” says Meera Menon, one of the trustees. Ekam was initially started in 2006 by a group of paediatricians, led by Dr. Sailakshmi, who were passionate about helping the needy children and involving the whole community in this endeavour. Ekam was supported as a project of CIOSA, the CSR arm of MaFoi Foundation. In 2008, Ekam got Tamil Nadu Government approval for supporting Government hospitals in child care on a Public-Private Partnership model. In 2009, Ekam was registered as a trust with 11 trustees, who were people from different walks of life. Ekam's activities include conducting training, medical camps, hospital care and providing financial assistance to critically ill underprivileged children. Ekam offers training to hospital staff and people who work closely with children on various aspects of health care. In association with ICDS, it recently completed training 600 anganwadi workers on eye screening, hearing impairment and developmental delay. Ekam also conducts medical camps in Corporation-run schools, ICDS centres, Government-aided schools and in slums and villages.
“A lot of doctors and nurses do the services at our medical camps free of cost and individuals and corporates also offer their support, either in terms of money or as volunteers. Government cannot take care of every child; it is the responsibility of the community to assist the Government. Ekam's aim is to complement the Government's efforts and not to replace it,” says Ms. Meera.
Ekam has taken up The Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children (ICH) as its pilot project for the Public-Private partnership model, with a view to upgrading the facilities at these hospitals in terms of fund and infrastructure. Ekam has added its own staff members at ICH - the trained staff members include a housekeeper, a chemo nurse and a lab technician.
“As many as 20 private hospitals are associated with Ekam” says Ms. Meera. The hospitals offer the services at a discounted rate and the cost is borne by Ekam through the donors," she explains.
Through donors, it supports infrastructure, setting up of new wards, procuring drugs, lab tests, purchase and renting of equipment, hospitalization care, and guidance for treatment through Kalaignar Kapeetu Thittam, etc.
Ekam recently launched the Paripoorna Bala Suraksha scheme, a medical assistance scheme for poor children below 19 years, in partnership with Disha Foundation.
“We are starting with 1800 children, after a process of screening children identified by NGOs in and around Chennai,” says Ms. Meera. Disha Foundation provides volunteer support for field visits, registration, besides raising funds for the scheme.
This scheme will be implemented in addition to the Kalaignar Kaapeetu Thittam.
Ekam, which functions from Nungambakkam, can be reached at 65515921, 9952043339, 98402 96109.
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