Roopa Nagarajan is an audiologist who has worked as a Project Director with Transforming Faces since 2006. She has worked with community based project titled “Comprehensive management of communication disorders in individuals with Cleft lip and palate“.
In India, a major barrier to providing comprehensive healthcare is the long distances and poor transportation for families living in rural areas. In response, the Speech and Dental departments at SRU teamed up to train community-based rehabilitation (CBR) workers to provide basic follow up in their communities.
CBR workers are trained to identify, screen, document and refer individuals to the hospital. They are also trained to provide basic speech correction services in a child’s home or school, under the supervision of a Speech Therapist.
As a result, the project has provided identification, referral, surgery, speech correction, dental and orthodontic care, to more than 300 children with cleft lip and palate.
How does Roopa’s team keep track of their patients? “The most important link has been the community worker who has called and reminded them. Secondly, about two thirds of our parents have mobile phones. The phone has made a difference,” she says.
“Our follow up has been good, overall, because we reach the child at their doorstep. A weakness of the camp system is that if a child is not able to attend on that day, they will have to wait for the next camp,” Roopa adds.
In 2012, Sri Ramachandra University was awarded funding from Mahindra, an Indian multinational automaker, to develop a mobile application software through a competitive grant program. They developed Project E-MPOWER.
Since then, our partners at SRU have used the grant money to develop the project to its current stage. The Implementation of E-Technology in Community-Based Project (E-Technology Project) is a mobile app that will be piloted to improve speech and hearing services for children living in rural areas.
Roopa speaks a bit about how Project E-MPOWER came about:
She sees TF’s role as one that enables people to do what is best for their communities and allows local experts to design programs for their communities. “Change comes through empowerment”