The Story Of Saurav Tiwary Making India A Healthy Country
“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” – Winston Churchill
Good health includes not only the obvious physical factors, but mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual factors as well.
A large-scale survey from 2019 found that 70 percent of Indian women and 59 percent Indian men were unhealthy based on their diet and lifestyle.
Almost 38 million deaths occurred due to non-communicable diseases ( NCDs) each year.
In India, roughly 5.8 million Indians die because of diabetes, cancer, stroke, heart and lung diseases each year. In other words, out of 4 Indians 1 has risks dying from an NCD before the age of 70.
The poorest 10% of the population rely on sales of their assets or on borrowings, entailing inter-generational consequences on the family’s ability to access basic goods and affecting their long-term economic prospects.
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Under such circumstances, we need people who will provide the right medical advice and assistance which will help reduce major diseases across the country.
One such conscientious person was Saurav Tiwary.
Saurav is a true example of dedication and perseverance, following his dream to serve his country in his own way. Fulfilled his desire of working with Red Cross and WHO and today doing his bit, saving lives of hundreds in rural India.
Born in 1980 in a very small town Gumla, Jharkhand, a complete tribal belt. This is very close to Chhattisgarh and Odisha having mixed culture of all three states. He belonged to a lower middle-class family with two sisters grown up in Gumla district. Initially admitted in Saraswati Shishu Mandir, a traditional Hindi medium school. He completed his graduation and post-graduation from St. Xavier college. He started his job but didn’t give up studying further. He completed Post Graduation in Rural Development, and Masters in Population Science, master’s in public health.
As usual, as per typical middle-class family expectations, he prepared for the competition examination but didn’t get success in any of the exams, not even in prelims.
But during the preparation, he got a chance to interact with a lot of NGOs who were working in different villages of Jharkand. He started visiting their office to understand their work.
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Saurav says, ’This was the first time it came to my mind “Oh God why am I not a doctor”? I should do something for these children who are suffering from polio.”
He started reading about polio. He wasn’t sure where his future would lead.
He started associating with local NGOs and volunteered in free time as pulse polio vaccinator, getting paid Rs. 25 per day. This was his first earning. Pulse polio rounds were organized every 2 months so as a Polio Vaccinator, he met many medical officers from different Ngos. This created a drive in him to follow their path and help in bringing about some change in the health of these tribals and locals.
Fortunately, he met some personnel of the World Health Organization- WHO. The World Health Organization is a specialized agency, part of the United Nations which is responsible for worldwide public health and its main objective is attaining the highest possible level of health by all.
Saurav Tiwary found his calling
This was a turning point in his life. For Saurav, WHO was just an organization he used to read about in GK books. Now actually meeting these people, watching them work, and being around them while he volunteered, gave him a huge high.
He decided to shut down all his preparations for other exams and took over studying all about WHO and how to associate with them.
But, soon he realised that getting associated with WHO was not that simple.
Fortunately, in March 2004 there were 14 Field Volunteer vacancies announced by WHO and he enrolled. Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared. He was sure of what he wanted and grabbed the chance.
Success is where preparation and opportunity meet-Bobby Unser.
After his selection and posting, his remuneration was rs.250, but that did not affect him as he was ultimately getting an opportunity to work with WHO and serve the society in the difficult terrain of Jharkhand.
He started working in Gumla then shifted to Simdega which was a tough region. The minimum run was 180 KM in a day to serve the community. Surviving for more than three years with Rs 250 as remuneration and 100% energy was a great learning for him.
Being the elder member in his family added to his social responsibilities and duties. Financial resources were limited. To add to his income, he started tuition before 9 am (4 am to 8 am) than 7 PM to 10 PM. Working from 3:30 am to 11 PM daily!!!
Next few years he worked with WHO and then moved to the Jharkhand Education project. Soon he realised that moving from medical to education was a bad move for him. He moved back to medicine and joined the Reproductive Right project and international organization of Georgetown University Washington DC. This was more about policy level advocacy work and Family Planning focused and so started working more with the women in that region.
His dream was to work with CARE and he kept applying for the next few years. Finally got an opportunity in 2013 to work with CARE. CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere) is a major international humanitarian agency delivering emergency relief and long-term international development projects.
Saurav says,”13th May 2013 was the day when my passion became a profession and when this happens, no matter what reward you are getting for this, you only feel satisfied to work for the community, society and become an agent of change.”
He started work in CARE Bihar, Madhepura district, which had the highest Infant Mortality Rate in India. Basic amenities were the poorest, least electricity, poor connectivity, floods, so many challenges.
His Family duties increased too with a wife and a baby. But Saurav never gave up. He worked in the toughest districts of Bihar like Madhepura, Purena, Goplaganj, Araria and finally in Muzaffapur.
Muzaffarpur is well known for Lichi Crop but in the last couple of years it is also famous for Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (Chamki). During the outbreak of 2019, he saw so many deaths of children that his soul lost its spirit.
He says, ”This again motivate me so much, that I will never change my passion and profession in this life, irrespective of whatever money I get for this service.”
From the past three years, he has been working to save the life of children of Muzaffarpur without caste, creed and religion.
During Covid when the wheels stopped, he worked 300 days without leave and gap. His dedication to his service added that extra zeal.
Saurav initiated various projects in the Gopalganj area. which were nutrition specific and he has proved that community awareness and focused initiative helps to improve the status of malnutrition of that particular area.
When he was in Araria, he had prepared a plan to implement family planning services in the rural population. In NFHS-5 you can point out that the tough district has the maximum use of “AANTRA ” an injectable method of family planning.
Similarly, in Muzaffarpur, his efficiency to save the casualties due to AES was commendable.
His sacrifice paid off, as his work impacted more than 300 villages and over 3,00,000 people during his tenure.
The change in the medical health of our rural population shows that if we have the right kind of people guiding and supporting the medical fraternity and government medical centres, change is bound to happen.
Due to the workshops and awareness camps held by Saurav and his team of 100 people, villages of Muzaffarpur are more careful of their health, especially women and children.
Saurav was always drawn to the issues affecting the female population and he became the part of the team to bring down the mortality rate in Bihar from 61 to 27. A huge effort to make India progressive.
Saurav believes that if more educated youth and people from the medical background volunteer and come to work part time also in these remote regions, India will have a brighter and healthier future.
People like Saurav prove that irrespective of what family background you come from, or what kind of schooling you have had, urban or rural areas, or what degrees you hold, ultimately it comes down to following your passion with complete honesty, integrity and dedication, you can
always contribute towards bringing in a change for a better India.
Nothing is impossible. Problems and obstacles will be part of your journey when you decide to step out of your comfort zone, but, when you commit, you commit. And that’s the difference between those who achieve and those who sit and complain.
India is our country, and if the majority of those who have the potential, decide to bridge the gap, then, it will be a new dawn for new India.
Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more. Tony Robbins
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