In 2009, Founder Kathleen Morrow traveled to the remote Himalayan region of Pemakö, Arunachal Pradesh State in the Northeast of India on pilgrimage as a healthcare volunteer. Through interviews she learned that in local villages, women, infants, and children were dying at a high rate from preventable causes: poor sanitation, complications during childbirth and postpartum, and from preventable diseases. Soon after the trip, the only relief organization providing basic health services to the Pemakö region withdrew. The Pemakö Health Initiative, Inc. (PHI) was established in May 2010 and was granted 501 (c) (3) status on June 24, 2011 with the primary goal to provide much needed health services in the region to improve the survival rate, and overall health of the local women, children, and families.
PHI designed a pilot Maternal Child Health Program during 2010 to address the healthcare needs of women and children in Pemakö. In February 2011, PHI met with local women and stakeholders to pave the way to work effectively in the region. PHI handmade 50 Clean Delivery Kits and one local nurse was trained to teach pregnant women and family members in its proper use.
Faced with the dilemma of the lack of basic healthcare in the villages and at the request of a stakeholder, PHI expanded into a holistic model for Family Centered Care during the summer of 2011. In February 2012, PHI was granted NGO status as a Registered Charitable Society in Arunachal Pradesh, India. In addition, four staff members from the Rural Volunteer Center from Assam State conducted a Participatory Rural Assessment for PHI in fourteen villages during April 2012. Village leaders signed letters of cooperation agreeing to work in partnership with PHI in these villages.
PHI’s accomplishments to date have set the stage for the organization to move into the next phase of program implementation: to train five local women who are Ancillary Nurse Midwives and/or General Nurses as Master Trainers in February/March 2013. Master Trainers learn the skills and knowledge necessary to expand health care in Pemakö. The Master Trainers will then train five local women as Maternal Child Health Workers and five local men as Family Health Care Workers from the initial five remote villages selected. The Program Manager and Program Field Manager will also participate in these trainings.