Mrs Kalavathi, a 45-year-old housewife from Tagachakuppe, India, has become a leader in her village for creating awareness about rabies and ensuring that bite victims receive the correct and complete treatment.

Mrs Kalavathi is a rabies volunteer and a village level worker for the Global Alliance for Rabies Control's (GARC) Adopt-a-Village Project for rural areas in India, where misconceptions about the disease are tackled through education programmes.

"I volunteered to be part of the Adopt-a-Village team as a village level worker because dog/animal bite is one of the important issues in our village,” Mrs Kalavathi said.

“In the past, I did not bother treating a dog/animal bite or practised methods like application of jackfruit gum with coin, plant sap, mud, and lime on the bite site. I was not aware of the consequences of dog/animal bite and I was of opinion that rabies can be cured.”

The GARC project team taught Mrs Kalavathi about rabies and how it can be prevented. In return, she educates members of her community by using the teaching aids provided by GARC.

Today, she is the first point of contact in the village for cases of dog or animal bites.

Mrs Kalavathi categorises the wounds and advises victims on what steps they need to take. Then, she accompanies the bite victims to the local health centre for rabies immunoglobulin injections and vaccines.

As a village level worker, it is Mrs Kalavathi's responsibility to make sure bite victims complete the full course of vaccinations.

“I feel proud that, I am involved in saving the life of my villagers from the most dangerous disease of rabies."

Mrs Kalavathi is one of many frontline health heroes of Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health.

Lifelines: The Quest for Global Health will air on Al Jazeera in 2014.

Source: Al Jazeera