Department of Distance Learning at CMC Vellore

It is a privilege and a pleasure to introduce to readers Dr Adeline Sitther, a staff member of the Department of Distance Learning at CMC Vellore.

Dr Adeline did her undergraduate medical training at CMC, completing her MBBS as a member of the 1988 batch. She worked for three years at the ECTM mission hospital in Kolar in the state of Karnataka. After this there was a big change in her life, as she moved to PNG, where she served for 17 years in Rumginae Rural Hospital in the Western Province of that country.

During that time Dr Adeline had quite a few Australian colleagues, and it was said that she even developed an Australia accent in her English (which has worn off by now).

Rumginae Rural Hospital is a 60 bed hospital and part of her role was also to train Community Health Workers, who from the backbone of rural health services in PNG.

This experience stood her in good stead when she moved back to Vellore in 2015 and joined the Distance Learning Department.

One of her main tasks is involvement with the Community Lay-Leaders Health Training Certificate course (CHLTC). The aim of this one-year course is to equip NGO workers already serving in rural areas with basic primary health knowledge and skills so that they will be able to provide holistic care to the communities they serve. As you can read in the attached report, the pandemic period was difficult because participants could not travel to Vellore to participate in the 20-day contact programs. This has led to adoption of flipped class model which has been very successful.  More than 1400 lay-leaders have completed the course.

During recent years the Australian FOVs have provided significant financial support for this important program, which brings medical care and instruction to areas where doctors and nurses are very scarce. The donations have been used to fund scholarships for participants with very limited resources and for course development. The photo shows a trained health worker teaching handwashing in a rural setting.

During my visit to Vellore in January 2020, I was able to visit the Department and meet Dr Adeline in person in its new housing in Bagayam. On the photo I am standing next to Dr Adeline, and with us is the Department coordinator, Dr Jachin Velavan.

Contributed by Prof. David Runia, President FO