Public Health Seminars in India

Written by: HEather Munoz, RN, CPM-TN

In January, I traveled to India for a delegation mission focused on women’s health education. Two years prior in September 2016, Tara Garner and I taught a Childbirth Essentials course in India that changed the occupational trajectory for two women, Sneha Purti and Rose Oungh. The trip was pivotal for our team’s efforts in maternal health as these ladies felt called to become public health educators for their community (read more on that trip here). Since then our team began training Sneha and Rose through courses taught by Childbirth Educators and Maternal Health workers from G.O.D. Int’l. The goal of this delegation mission was to focus our efforts to further develop their capacity as public health workers. I’m happy to report that these times of training went very well!

Breast health is a topic of increasing importance in India because it is now the most common cancer in most cities in India. Our seminar discussed prevention because over 80% of breast cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors.

Breast health is a topic of increasing importance in India because it is now the most common cancer in most cities in India. Our seminar discussed prevention because over 80% of breast cancers are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors.

With the assistance of my teammate Kristin Streeter, our seminars were met with enthusiasm and opened a dialogue for future education. We began with a public health seminar entitled “Combating Air Pollution with Immune Health.” We opened with a time of investigation regarding our participant’s daily experience and health concerns of neighbors. Recently Delhi has one of the most hazardous air quality indexes in the world, making this topic particularly relevant. I was able to share ways to increase the body’s natural detoxing abilities with daily practices that combat the harmful effects of pollution. Our participants were quick to tell us that these methods gave them more ways to deal with the effects of pollution rather than the most popular solution, wearing a mask, (which are not as popular in use as in other Asian countries). We closed this time with nutrition tips and practical ways to deal with stress, which together have a significant effect on our immune system and limits the body’s natural ability to filter these hazardous chemicals.

In addition to our seminar on Immune Health, we facilitated workshops on the Treatment and Prevention of Common Women’s Infections, Breast Health & Cancer Prevention and Effective Tips for Teaching & Managing a Classroom. These topics were of specific importance for our Maternal Health liaisons, Sneha and Rose. Over the last 2 years, they have taught a middle and high school curriculum for girl’s health and social issues and have begun a married women’s discussion group. Each of these workshops were designed to enhance their service to these women.

With Rose (foreground) and Sneha (background), we reviewed our last two years of activity in maternal health and made plans with how to move forward in our program area of women’s health education.

With Rose (foreground) and Sneha (background), we reviewed our last two years of activity in maternal health and made plans with how to move forward in our program area of women’s health education.

One stand out moment occurred at the beginning of our trip prior to our times of education where Kristin, Rose, Sneha and I reviewed the last two years of our maternal health efforts in India. We shared our successes, areas we could improve, and we discussed future strategy as a team. It was evident that God’s presence was in the room with us as women from the US and India gave input for how to create successful programs for women’s health education in their communities! We formally launched a new program for women named, “Well With My Soul.” This is a group for young women to receive instruction on physical health as well as emotional and mental health support. Sneha and Rose’s desire to nurture young women is apparent in choosing the program’s name.

Luke 8:40-56 is a powerful account of Jesus demonstrating care for the plight of women. From a young girl at age 12 to the hemorrhaging woman dealing with menstruation issues for over 12 years, Jesus physically heals her and, in so doing, empowers her so that she can be of benefit to society. As a nurse and midwife, my calling is to bring health to women and give a voice to the issues they face. After Tara and I taught our first childbirth education classes in India together, we didn’t know the impact it would have on our dear friends Sneha and Rose, who now give their time to see young women grow in confidence and education about who God has made them. Now together, we genuinely hope that more women in India can say, “it is Well With My Soul.”