Health education and health promotion are pillars of preventive health and primary care. The Department utilizes every possible opportunity to engage the community in the University Field Project Area in health promotion. As part of these efforts, Department staff, including two Consultant Community Physicians, a Family Medicine Specialist, Public Health Inspector and Public Health Nursing Sister, organize and participate in numerous public health campaigns. As health education is an integral component of the Community and Family Medicine curriculum, medical students implement a range of health education activities in the area.
Engaging community in the University Field Project Area – MOH Nallur
Following its inception, the Department of Community Medicine administered the University Field Project Area, which covered the Kokuvil-Kondavil Community Health Project Area until 2010. The University Field Project Area merged with the Nallur MOH Area in 2010, and has since been administered by the Medical Officer of Health-Nallur in partnership with the Department.
At present, the MOH Office-Nallur is located in the premises of the Divisional Hospital Kondavil. A major part of the field activities undertaken by the Department are carried out in the Nallur MOH Area. Department staff contribute to health service provision to the residential population in partnership with the MOH Nallur. Alongside Ministry of Health staff, Department staff participates in the delivery of poly clinics conducted in various locations. The University Field Project Area includes 22 schools. The Department contributes to school medical inspections, and a range of other health promotional activities. Recent initiatives include reactivation/formation of school health clubs, sexual and reproductive health promotion, substance abuse prevention, introduction of organic farming, new solid waste management techniques.
Community-oriented primary care: The Family Health Centre
The Family Health Centre (FHC), located in the premises of District Hospital Kondavil, is key to the Department’s community engagement strategy. Led by a Family Medicine Specialist, FHC is overseen and managed by the Department. Non-communicable disease (NCD) clinics, healthy lifestyle clinics, obesity and weight management clinics, and foot care clinics, are offered through the FHC, which operates a laboratory staffed by a medical laboratory technician and laboratory attendant. In addition, the FHC delivers a weekly community-based NCD screening programme, yoga training classes, and engages health volunteers from the Field Project Area to identify families with special needs, and coordinates the delivery of home-based services.
Capacity building for health promotion through student engagement
DCFM is committed to inculcating positive attitudes towards public health and health promotion among the next generation of medical doctors. To further this goal, the department integrates numerous student-led health promotion initiatives into the Community and Family Medicine curriculum.
This eight-month group project takes place in the University Field Project Area (MOH Nallur). A family is allocated to each group of 3 students. The students are expected to visit the family as a group, identify relevant socioeconomic and health-related problems, and address them to the best of their ability. While enhancing their learning experience, some committed students groups intervene to address intractable social problems at the household level, including substance abuse and domestic violence.
Family Medicine Appointment
Students undertake various health promotion activities in the Family Medicine Clinical Appointment. As an example, in 2018, students of the 37th Batch formulated a draft guideline for foot care and obesity reduction for the Family Health Centre.
Field Health Activity
Students undertake public health campaigns as part of their Field Health Activity to raise awareness and instigate health behavior change in the community. Previous initiatives have targeted injury prevention, non-communicable disease prevention and community empowerment. In 2018, the Department partnered with the Faculty of Medicine to organize Yarl MedEx 2018, a 4-day medical exhibition held in the Faculty premises to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine-Jaffna.
Community Residential Rural Health Programme
Students coordinate the provision of services to remote, disadvantaged, war-torn communities in the Northern Province through the Community Residential Rural Health Programme. Previous initiatives have included individual and/or group health education sessions, school medical inspections, non-communicable disease screening programmes in Oddisuddan, a village in Mullaitivu District, and Siva Arul Illam in Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar District.
Working through external community-based organizations
Department staff members contribute on a voluntary basis to health service provision at several community-based organizations located in Jaffna. Examples include:
- Association for Rehabilitation of the Disabled (AROD), Kokuvil
- Cancer Aid for North/East (CANE), Chunnakam
- Co-operative Hospital, Moolai
- Sivapoomi School for Children with Special Needs, Kondavil
- Sivapoomi Elders’ Home, Tholpuram