A social worker in Jharkhand is using music to spread awareness about Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other health issues.
Shankar Nayak, a 33-year-old resident of Gumla district, about 130 km from Ranchi, formed a music troupe and started visiting villages to spread awareness about health problems 12 years ago.
Initially, there were five members in the troupe but now the number has gone up to 14. They have succeeded in attracting a large number of people through music and providing them with information.
The songs are mostly sung in local languages for effective communication. "We use folk music to create awareness among the people. We have not restricted ourselves to any particular subject. We create awareness on all kinds of health and sanitation related problems. We inform villagers how to fight AIDS, malaria, leprosy and other maladies," said Nayak.
"Music has the power to attract all. Villagers are ready to accept messages if they are convinced. And what better way than folk music to spread the messages," he added.
Folk music is gaining popularity among people, particularly the tribals. "We feel nice when people approach doctors for treatment after our show. Some people ask many health related questions and we feel we are succeeding in our mission," said a member of Nayak's troupe.
"People in our village are now waking up to problems. They are realising the need to combat deadly diseases and maintain sanitation. We are grateful to the troupe for their efforts," said Ganpati Mahto, a resident of Gumla.
Most Jharkhand villages lack television sets and newspapers hardly ever reach them.
There are nearly 37,000 leprosy patients in Jharkhand and every year nearly 1000 people fall prey to malaria. As per official estimates, there are 1100 AIDS patients in the state.