The cool morning air in Bengaluru would carry a bad odour if the legions of pourakarmikas stop working, but they pay a heavy price to keep the city clean.
A health screening camp held exclusively for the Grade-4 workers showed that most municipal workers suffer from anaemia.
Both male and female sanitary workers in the Shankar Mutt ward, Mahalakshmi Layout, were screened for five days. While the women were screened for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) such as anaemia, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and oral, breast and cervical cancers, the men were also examined for the diseases except for the last three.
The results showed that anaemia was common among 89% of the pourakarmikas checked at the screening camp, a majority of them were women. About 11% of them had oral, potentially malignant, lesions and high blood pressure, whereas 5% of them had high blood sugar.
Among the women screened, 13% of them needed follow-ups for colposcopy, while 1% of them needed to see the doctor again for breast lump. All of them were given a record of their health checks with details of referrals if required.
The Biocon Foundation organised the screening to spread awareness about health management, while also helping the pourakarmikas detect, prevent and optimally manage diseases.
Doctors said tobacco use, alcohol, unhealthy food habits, the stress of poverty, poor health-seeking behaviour and low level of access to healthcare services were reasons for the onset and cause of NCDs among pourakarmikas.
The foundation has submitted a report to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and sought its approval to continue the screening in the city starting with the west zone, including RR Nagar, Dasarahalli and Vijayanagar.
Doctors from Biocon will escalate the positive cases with BBMP which will handle their treatment.
The BBMP has provided its health centres for the Biocon-assigned doctors and qualified experts to test the pourakarmikas for three days a week.
“They’re screened after 10.30 am when they’re done with their duties,” said Pratima Rao, mission director, Biocon Foundation. “The screening won’t take much of their time and they can immediately carry on with their regular tasks.”