Dolly Betal and her family live in a small village called Lego, which is part of the Bankura district of West Bengal. They grow potatoes and paddy for living, but technical and environmental shortcomings make it difficult for the family to make ends meet. Working hard to feed the family has also taken a toll on Dolly’s health. She would constantly get tired and had very little energy, she also complained of headaches.

As part of a health program called EnSIGN, being run in the Bankura District of West Bengal by CARE India, a baseline study was conducted wherein Dolly was diagnosed with severe Anemia. All her symptoms clearly pointed towards the disease but due to lack of awareness, the disease remained undetected. The deficiency had taken a toll on her and as most of her work required physical labor, the family and its income were also suffering.

The field officer part of the project, Ms. Rupa Das Karmakar, took amelioration of Dolly’s health upon herself and began visiting her regularly. On these visits she would counsel Dolly on her dietary requirements as well as about the available public health services. She also accompanied Dolly and introduced her to the local social health worker. The social health worker then made Dolly take a visit to the Government health sub-center to consult with the doctor.

The EnSIGN field officer also met Dolly’s husband and the rest of her family to discuss her condition. They were advised to make sure that Dolly takes her medication and follows the prescribed diet. Consequently, Dolly’s family started taking care of her and helping her out with her household work.

With support from her family, Dolly bravely fought her disease. Her condition gradually improved and recent tests showed her hemoglobin levels to be well within the normal range. Having left anemia behind, Dolly is now a role model for other members of her community.

CARE India’s EnSIGN seeks to develop evidence-based approaches and metrics to integrate gender and nutrition into agriculture for increased productivity and profitability for farmers. The project recognizes the importance of women in the agricultural sector and therefore works towards ensuring healthier lifestyle practices for these women.

Arunangshu Shekhar Jana