The Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve is rich in plant diversity and 'gene pool' as the combination of different climatic and ecological factors gives rise to rich and luxuriant vegetation, which is amongst the richest in central India. It is not unexpected then that this region plays host to a number of herb collectors and vaids (local healers/doctors) who come here annually.
Despite this background, the current health status of the local population is far from satisfactory. There are no referral hospitals in this district of over a million (leave alone the adjoining lesser-populated districts), and doctors at the existing healthcare facilities across the district recommend that for effective treatment, serious patients be taken to big cities like Bhopal, Jabalpur or Nagpur. Besides this, the rural poor have difficulty obtaining primary healthcare due to ineffective government health centres and the high cost of private healthcare facilities.
Consequently, the JATAN healthcare initiative is an attempt to generate practical healthcare solutions. We have started a medicinal plant display garden and resource centre that involves local expertise and highlights traditional knowledge and local health cultures that are being forgotten due to economic, political and cultural reasons. Together with herbal health awareness programmes and campaigns, like the annual chirayata (quinine extract) campaign to tackle malaria and dengue, we believe that these traditional healthcare systems can address the primary health problems frequently encountered by rural communities. They can also complement efforts in poverty alleviation and can be a health and livelihood strategy. As biodiversity and cultural diversity go hand in hand, strengthening of local health cultures will also contribute to the conservation of local biodiversity.
In the long term, JATAN hopes that its healthcare initiative will provide the surrounding rural communities with an integrated set of health and development services. It also hopes to develop a model health and development programme that relies on tried and tested indigenous medical knowledge together with allopathy.
For an overview of health and well being in MP, see here.
2004, wild plants at Jatan farm
2004, news cutting of Jatan sponsored plant based recipe and
sample disribution against chikanguniya
2005, the one room farmhouse at Jatan farm
2005, early garden view
2006, admiring the Gloriosa superba or kalihari/Tiger Lily
2007, the medicinal plant garden gets visitors
2008, workshop on identifying local plants and their uses
2008, recreating a local herbal remedy collected through village
2008, plantings continue in the medicinal plant garden
2008, carrying out a survey of locally growing medicinal plants