The eastern districts of Nagaland, bordering Myanmar are the most underdeveloped districts in the state requiring urgent improvement in many areas. Health is a major challenge. They come under the most underdeveloped districts in Nagaland and are listed among the four high priority districts in the state by NHM. The performance of the districts on critical health indicators (ANC, immunization, and institutional delivery) are lowest in the state.
There are many factors that result in poor health service delivery. These include poor health infrastructure, lack of proper equipment at the health centers, lack of awareness, and inability to access health services due to poverty. Added to this is the issue of difficult terrain where people have to walk 5-6 hours for basic services. This is a major reason for discontinued services and a low follow-up rate.
In the year 2010, the then Principal Secretary of DoHFW, Mr Menukhol John visites Longpang PHC during which time ECS initiated a dialogue with the NHM, which now has become the only PHC in the entire country where doctors and nurses are appointed by the community and salary comes from the dept of H & F welfare. To meet the basic health needs of the people, ECS started running this Longpang PHC on a Public-Private Partnership model between the Dept. of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of Nagaland, and the community. The 20 bedded PHC now provides round-the-clock services and is equipped with all the essential diagnostic facilities such as X-ray, Ultrasound, ECG, CBC, and biochemistry analyzers and a mother-child centre with a fully functional labour room with its independent portable ultrasound machine and essential neonatal resuscitation equipment.
One problem however has been access to health, particularly by remote villages to the PHC. In the year 2014 the villagers around the PHC met to discuss on road linkage. For 8 villages beyond the river it took them almost 3 hours since there was no bridge and had to travel 30 kms upstream and 30 kms back to the PHC. The villagers felt only if they could raise funds to build a bridge, it would mean their journey would be reduced to less then 10 kms. A birdge was then build over the Yijung river by the community using locally available resources. Unfortunately, that bridge got washed away by flood waters the following monsoon. Despite this huge loss, the community once again decided to go further downstream and re build the bridge at a safer location.
The village councils and church took the lead for the building of the second bridge as well and SHG mothers and members of the mothers club came to support the initiative. ECS helped mobilize the support to build this bridge.Through a massive convergence effort between various state departments such as the Public Works Department (PWD), MGNREGA, the Border Roads Organization, District Executive Force (DEF) under Nagaland Police, Assam Rifles, the local MLA and individual donors and friends of ECS, the construction was initiated. Other noteworthy funder was the HANs foundation who put in almost 70% of the cost. Young people came to help paint the bridge and many Churches came to help in constructing wooden culverts on the link road.
This convergence effort led to the building of a 10 km link road and a 70 feet bridge. The link road and the bridge is the perfect example of how convergence of state, funders and the community can do wonders.