Project: Occupational Health Care and Education
Location: Thar Desert, Jodhpur District, Rajasthan
Category: Education, Empowerment, and Health Care
Combating Lung Diseases in Mine Workers
GRAVIS, a very well established NGO based in Rajasthan, has been actively involved in reducing the incidence of lung diseases in mine workers for many years. With IDS support, GRAVIS implemented a lung health intervention project this year in a remote sandstone mining community of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. The goals of the intervention were to raise the awareness of occupational lung diseases in mining communities and to reduce the incidence and prevalence of these diseases.
Rajasthan has a large population of workers involved in the mining industry. Mine workers in the Thar Desert face extreme climatic conditions in addition to a hazardous work environment. These workers are susceptible to occupational lung diseases like silicosis and tuberculosis. Silicosis is a severe dust-borne lung disease that scars the lungs and causes them to stiffen, hindering their expansion during breathing. The effects of silicosis are irreversible and fatal; there is no cure, so only palliative support can be provided to sufferers.
Tuberculosis, another potentially life-threatening lung disease, is curable and can be treated with medication. Mine workers with either one of these diseases are at great risk of developing the other; the combined effects of silicosis and tuberculosis result in significant suffering and premature deaths.
GRAVIS worked with the miners and mine owners this year to introduce techniques like wet drilling and to educate workers in preventive measures such as wearing masks, gloves, and shoes while working. GRAVIS also conducted medical examinations at the worksite for early detection of disease. Those identified as having significant health problems were sent for further medical management at nearby urban area hospitals. Nutrition camps were also held to instruct workers in the importance of an adequate diet and to distribute supplements to the community.
GRAVIS conducted orientation sessions for mine owners to make them aware of the problems of occupational lung disease and how it affects their workers’ quality of life. In addition, GRAVIS advocated for the mine workers at the government level to enforce safety practices in the mining industry.
With support from IDS this year, GRAVIS carried out eight medical camps, treated about 500 patients, trained and educated over 400 miners, distributed information about government schemes, provided information on better nutrition, and sensitized 63 mine owners to the importance of maintaining the health of their workforce.
IDS Coordinator: Nila Vora
Project Manager: Dr. Prakash Tyagi
–2016 IDS annual report