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Department of Community Health

Department of Community Health


The VHS Department of Community Health (Institute of Community Health) comprises 5 Mini Health Centres (MHCs) located along the OMR and ECR. The Mini Health Centres conduct activities such as:

  • Clinical services
  • Community health outreach including daily house visits, medical camps, field clinics, school health visits, community group interactions and nutrition demonstrations.
  • Community health training for medical, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy and other paramedical students as per the University syllabus.
  • Operational research studies on community health issues.

Clinical and community health outreach is done through 10 Mini Health Centres which are located in the southern periphery of Chennai city mostly located on the ECR and OMR arterial roads. The catchment area of the Mini Health Centres covers a population of nearly one lakh for clinical services and approximately half are covered with regular outreach such as daily house visits. The Community Health outreach services are offered under the eight core activities such as Water, Sanitation, Women health, Child health, Nutrition, Communicable diseases, Non-Communicable diseases and Clinical practice. Other activities such as Nutrition Demonstration, Group health Education, Provision of Weaning Mix and School health visit are done on a regular basis.


  • Provide preventive, promotive and curative health care to rural and underserved populations
  • Conduct training programs for doctors, interns, nurses, paramedics and health workers
  • Offer field exposure placements at mini health centres to medical, nursing and nutrition students
  • Undertake epidemiological, clinical and socio-economic research studies


  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Levels of Intervention

  • Basic clinical care
  • Community outreach
  • Training programs
  • Research studies

Community Health Model

  • VHS currently manages 10 Mini Health Centers offering basic clinical care and outreach services to one lakh beneficiaries living in southern peripheral communities of Chennai.
  • Mini Health Centers improve access to primary health care services for poor and underserved population through trained community based health workers
  • Mini Health Centers serve patients based on clinical needs rather than their ability to pay and work towards health promotion and disease prevention
  • Mini Health Centres staffed by two trained Multi-Purpose Health Workers, backed by periodic visits by Medical Officer and Public Health Nurse
  • Mini Health Centers networked with central tertiary care hospital providing preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative care covering major specialties and super specialties

Field work

The Multipurpose health workers make daily home visit as per the Fixed Tour Programme (FTP) in order to cover the entire population for every two months under each Mini Health Centre. This outreach provides basic clinical care, preventive and promotive services by medical officers along with multipurpose health workers and trainees posted at the Dept of Community Health. Cases that require specialized care are referred to the main hospital at Adyar.


Training is undertaken at the Institute of Community Health at Thuraipakkam and practical postings at various mini health Centres. Trainees include CRRI posting, MD Community Medicine, M.Sc Nursing, B.Sc Nursing, Diploma in Nursing, Post Basic B.Sc Nursing and other streams such as nutrition, pharmacy etc. Non-formal training is based on request from various organisations such as Rotary Clubs, NGOs etc and is tailor made to requirements. For the reporting period a total of 333 students were trained in 84 batches.


Free medical camps are periodically conducted by VHS Mini Health Centres so that health care services reach the poor and underprivileged communities living in slums, resettlement tenements and along canal banks. Medical camps fulfil unmet health care needs of people having poor health seeking behaviours. Free medical camps organized by VHS extend quality medical care services, free medicines and health education to the needy and underserved populations living in peripheral areas surrounding Chennai.

Medical Camps Conducted

VHS conducted three free medical camps for the benefit of communities living in and around Neelangarai (20th August 2017), Thuraipakkam (3rd September 2017) and Sithalapakkam (10th September 2017). Each of the three free medical camps was sponsored by The Oriental Insurance Company Limited (a Government of India Undertaking) under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Community Participation

Braving the searing heat from the sun, leaving behind household chores and giving up family commitments, a large number of people assembled at each of the three medical camps to avail free health care services offered by VHS with support from The Oriental Insurance Company Limited.

The community response was overwhelming with a continuous stream of people gathering throughout the day, including women, men, infants, children, adolescents, elderly, differently abled, infirm residents and people who are unable to afford quality medical care.

A total of 1,306 people (Neelangarai – 368, Thuraipakkam – 277 and Sithalapakkam – 661) in need of medical care benefitted from the camp.

Beneficiaries included working women and men, daily wage earners, domestic workers, casual labourers, construction workers, fisher folk, factory workers, security men, auto rickshaw drivers, loadmen, shop assistants and staff from housekeeping services.

Residents of resettlement colonies, people living along the canal banks and workers from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for poor households also availed the free medical services.

Health Care Providers

Free medical care, services, and health education were offered by a panel comprising VHS Medical Officer, Attending Doctors, Public Health Nurse, Optometrist, Staff Nurses (Ophthalmology) and Multi-Purpose Health Workers. Urban Health Nurses from the Corporation of Chennai also provided assistance during the medical camp.

Doctors attending on beneficiaries listened to the complaints and symptoms, undertook clinical examination, diagnosed the cause, gave advice and prescribed medicines to treat the illnesses. Beneficiaries with risk factors for developing diabetes, such as age (over 40 years), family history, overweight, obesity, lack of physical activity and high blood pressure, were screened. Upon recommendation by the Medical Officer and attending Doctors, a total of 274 beneficiaries were screened for diabetes. Eye examinations were conducted and cases were referred to VHS hospital for follow-up care. Refractive errors, cataract, retinal problem, itching, eye pain and headache were some of the eye related conditions reported during the camp.

Free medicines were dispensed to beneficiaries in branded medicine covers. The most commonly prescribed medicines during the camp included antibiotic, analgesic, broncho dilator/asthmatic, gastric, anti-emetic, anti-allergic, anti-spasmodic, anti-diarrheal, anti-helminthic, anti-amoebic, ointment and vitamin supplement.


Beneficiaries requiring specialized medical care were referred to VHS Hospital for further investigation and treatment. Beneficiaries were also advised to visit the Mini Health Centre for follow-up consultations and medicines. During scheduled house visits, Health Workers will meet beneficiaries to monitor their health condition and provide follow-up care

Voices of Beneficiaries

Neelangarai “I am from Kerala and was passing by when I noticed the banner outside the Mini Health Centre. Normally I have doubts about free medical camps and hesitate going to such camps. However, after attending this free camp and consulting doctors and Health Workers from VHS, my opinion has changed. I am impressed to see and experience the quality health care you are giving. Your service is excellent. VHS is helping the poor people living in this community.” – Male, 60 years.

“Neelangarai Mini Health Centre has been my saviour. Without services of this centre and Health Workers, I will not be alive today. Thank you for the camp and free medicines.” – Male, 65 years.

Thuraipakkam “Doctors and Health Workers were helpful, listened to our complaints, understood our health condition and gave us free medicines, thank you” expressed another beneficiary.

“It feels like you did this camp just for poor people like us, thank you” stated a family of husband, wife and two children. They also expressed satisfaction with the arrangements and thanked VHS and the sponsor.

Sithalapakkam “We came as a family for undergoing check-ups and to see a doctor. My daughter is having cold, chest congestion, fever and breathing problem and we needed medicines. We are satisfied with the services and medicines received at the camp. Thank you for organizing this camp for us.” A 55-year-old woman engaged in household work.

“I am suffering from cold, cough and drowsiness. The doctor understood my condition, made me comfortable and took good care of me. Thank you for the free medicines.” A 75-year-old man who used to pull a rickshaw to earn a living.

CM Insurance Scheme

  • Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CHCHIS)
  • Monthly camps are conducted by the volunteers of Sathya Sai and the Dept of Ophthalmology VHS. For the period of reporting a total of 11 camps were conducted with a total of 2,462 patients examined.
  • A total of 222 beneficiaries were provided free medical services.

Sathya Sai Monthly Camps

Monthly camps are conducted by the volunteers of Sathya Sai and the Dept of Ophthalmology VHS, for the period of reporting a total of 11 camps were conducted with a total of 2462 patients seen.