Women in Global Health announces cofounder of The Banyan, Vandana Gopikumar as one of 2021's Heroines of Health

This makes her the only one in India to get this award that celebrates the contribution to healthcare by women
Vandana Gopikumar
Vandana Gopikumar

Recognising the work Vandana Gopikumar, cofounder of The Banyan has been doing during the pandemic, the Women in Global Health (WGH) announced her as one of this year’s Heroine of Health. This makes her the only one in India to get this award that celebrates the contribution to healthcare by women.

One of the nine Heroines of Health, Vandana has been reaching out to women who are homeless, having mental health issues, through The Banyan. They conf ront the stigma around mental health head on, by not only supporting those in need but also simultaneously educating communities.

Through the NGO, Vandana provides safe spaces, employment opportunities, mental health support and basic care. “I am elated to be named Heroine of Health and this is definitely a push for all like-minded people. This is for the work Banyan has done over the years,” said Vandana.

Highlighting the work that they did, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vandana said they ensured that all safety protocols were in place. “We dealt aggressively with socio-economic repercussions due to Covid. Women with mental health issues, who may also get into a state of homelessness as a result of abject pover ty, have been among the hardest hit.In India, and globally, limited options are available for this vulnerable group resulting in neglect, abuse, long-term incarceration and early mortality.”

To address this, The Banyan organised several outreach programmes through which they ensured basic income, food and other amenities to the needy. They also provided access to safe spaces, in case of an emergency.

“We asked the government to scale up services. The National Health Mission and Tamil Nadu government responded positively and stepped up services by integrating emergency care and recovery centres that responded to the needs of the homeless within primary health care centres in many districts.

This was done in collaboration with the Institute of Mental Health,” she said. WGH is a US-based global network promoting gender equality in health leadership. It is recognised by world leaders such as Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general, WHO; Helen Clark, former PM of New Zealand, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia.

Related Stories

No stories found.