Starting at the beginning…

The Women’s Health Association-Mangal Pratap Stree Arogya Kendra, located near Pathari and Belati villages in Solapur, Maharashtra began as a thought process and discussion between Dr. Priya Ajay Chauhan (MD-Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Founder Director) and her family. Her roots in India and her intention to do her bit for rural women in India, combined with the support from her family sowed the seeds to begin this non-profit center.

While shaping the center in her mind and deciding how to take things forward, with a twist of fate, she met me (Dr. Kusum V. Moray, MD Community Medicine, Public Health Physician, and Executive Director) on a train journey from Mumbai, the city of dreams, to Solapur, a second-tier city, to the southwest of Maharashtra in October 2022. I am not sure if this was a coincidence or destiny. I am at a stage in my career evaluating my future direction and aligning it with my past choices. It has been seven years since I completed my post-graduation and I have tested several waters in my professional life. I have strived to upskill myself and continue to reflect on what kind of work I am made for. Having identified health systems, and women’s health, especially non-communicable diseases as areas of my preferred work; joining Dr. Priya seemed the right thing to do. I knew it would satiate my desire to work closely with people and communities to try and be an instrument to improve their health and well-being.  

Between 2022 and 2024, the two of us have been in touch constantly; participating in several meetings, online and in-person. We have put together our plans, vision, mission, and values (which you can find on this website’s home page). Over the two years, we met with the local stakeholders, most importantly, the women residents of the villages to understand their needs. We have begun engaging with the women using simple community participatory methods (where the women decide what they need/want). We wish to keep the women at the center, in as true a sense as possible, using our skill sets in Obstetrics, Gynaecology, and public health while focusing on their overall health and well-being.

Dr. Priya’s family has kindly made space for the center in their family farmhouse, which has now (May 2024) been renovated and restructured to fit the needs of a primary healthcare women’s center. The aesthetically made farmhouse is located amidst green farms and has a pleasant garden area and a portico on the first floor. We envision health education, and promotion activities being conducted in these spaces for women and their children. Owing to its location, we anticipate that some older women or those with socio-economic, cultural, or familial barriers may have trouble coming to the center. To counter this, we plan to do home- visits and conduct community outreach activities in the four villages close to the center.

As we continue to get the pre-work done, we are excited about the inauguration and full-time functioning of the center in July 2024. We hope that as per our plans, we can make a positive difference in the lives of the women in touch. While the progress and activities of the center will be documented digitally, systematically using a monitoring and evaluation framework, this blog will serve as our honest take on how this center goes forward. For now, I have just started at the beginning!

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