Last Week’s Time magazine had an article written by Jeffery Sachs titled “Safety in Numbers” that highlights programs that are recruiting community workers to provide basic health services in rural communities. By investing in basic health care training of community workers, these programs provide a safety net for thousands of poor people who would otherwise be unattended.
The article highlights a couple of innovative efforts in India.
The mother of all community health efforts is India’s National Rural Health Mission. Initiated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and spearheaded by the young, dynamic Minister of Health, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, the program has, in just over three years, mobilized more than half a million new community health workers, each known as an ASHA–short for “accredited social health activist,” and the Hindi word for hope.
In India, Satyam Computer Services and other organizations have partnered with the state government of Andhra Pradesh to provide emergency-response coverage for 80 million people. The Gates Foundation is similarly stepping up its programs of mobile-phone-based health delivery.
Together with the National Insurance Health Program and Smart Card, these programs are taking the first steps to providing low cost scalable solutions to help address the healthcare needs of the Indian masses.