This Healthcare Model From Tribal Odisha Has Been Replicated In Philippines & Syria

Follow Us On

In a metropolitan city, where super-speciality hospitals brazenly advertise their world-class (and expensive) medical facilities, the residents often find themselves in a fix while choosing the best one for even the simplest treatment. At the same time, not too far from the cityscape, a small village may be struggling to find even a single doctor or clinic.

The drastic difference between the two pictures clearly hints at a drastic disparity in healthcare in India, a country where around 70% of rural settlements fail to assure quality healthcare to more than half of her citizens. Inevitably, India, the second most populous country in the world, stands at a deplorable 145th rank in the Global Healthcare Index 2018. To change the scenario, Intelehealth, a tech-based non-profit, has come up with a unique primary healthcare model. Based in Odisha, Intelehealth has positively influenced over 50,000 tribal people who had negligible access to healthcare even a year ago.


The story behind Intelehealth

Founder Neha Goel is a health entrepreneur, who launched her first health service venture at the age of 19. Growing up with doctor parents, Neha was well-aware of the problems existing in healthcare in India. She interacted with Dr Acharya from Johns Hopkins University, who seconded her idea for a solution. Together, they started planning the Intelehealth model since 2016, which was deployed on-ground in rural Odisha from January 2018.

The app is super easy to use

Talking to Efforts For Good, Neha explained the intricate model of Intelehealth whose efficacy is ought to leave one in awe. The open-source care delivery model is controlled through a very basic app. “We have a team of health workers in the villages who form the backbone for our model. 10th or 12th-pass village women with a basic understanding of health and medicine are trained by our experts following which they are delegated to help out the community,” informs Neha.

The app has been developed in such a way that these women can easily handle it without any assistance. There are more icons and illustrations than wordy instructions, which guide the health workers evenly, one step at a time. In addition, the app is available in the local language.


How the Intelehealth model works

Presently working in Khamar area of Angul district in Odisha, the Intelehealth core team has selected 30 health volunteers from among the villagers who go from door to door inquiring about the need for any medical intervention. This simple approach has been immensely effective in gaining people’s trust.

When there is a patient, the health worker associated with that particular village reaches with her ‘backpack clinic’ in no time. Operating from makeshift health clinics, be it under a tree or inside the patient’s house, the health workers connect the patient to the doctor through Intelehealth’s telemedicine portal.

Be it three days’ fever, stomach ache or a throat infection, all symptoms are conveyed to the doctor, who generally responds within a few hours. Based on his prescription, the patient is directed to a nearby pharmacy where they can get the medicines. “We have one health worker for one village or a cluster of small villages. One doctor is assigned to a group of villages,” shares Neha.


72% of their beneficiaries are women

Catering to a population of around 50,000, Intelehealth finds 72% of their beneficiaries among the women. Neha shares, “These tribal women were the worst affected. Firstly, due to the patriarchal mindset of the families, they are rarely allowed to seek medical treatment for their personal problems, mainly gynaecological. They always need to be escorted by a senior male family member to even visit the village clinic.”

Intelehealth has eased things a hundred times for these women. They can now openly approach the women health workers with their gynaecological issues and get a doctor’s consultation in no time. Even in the domain of maternity and paediatric care, they are now getting expert advice which is difficult to find in a rural zone.

The elderly community comprises another major chunk of the beneficiaries of Intelehealth. They come mostly with problems like Arthritis, weakness and other age-related complications. Even a bit of simple advice on physiotherapy and basic medicines do wonders for these people, who otherwise give in to suffering or faith-healing.


Helping the villagers avail existing govt benefits

The Intelehealth model is super affordable for these low-income tribal communities, costing only 70 paisa per person in a day.

“We mainly focus on primary healthcare,” clarifies Neha, adding, “But in case of an emergency, the doctor is consulted immediately. As per his advice, the health worker connects the patient with the nearest ambulance service and health centre.”

Intelehealth aims to help the patients learnt about and avail the existing health benefit schemes in the state. “Odisha government has a scheme ‘Niramay’ which provides at least 250 basic medicines for free to the underprivileged people. We try to direct the patients towards this and many other such schemes,” tells Neha.

Neha shares the story of an elderly patient who was diagnosed with a kidney ailment at the local hospital, where he was given an estimate of Rs 3 lakhs for the surgery. He had planned to mortgage his property; his kids had to be pulled out of school. The Intelehealth doctor informed him about the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme, where all his medical expense for the surgery would be covered.


Worldwide success of Intelehealth

The momentous success of the Intelehealth model can be assessed from the fact that the Health Ministry of Philippines has created a similar model in their country. Since their healthcare problems are quite similar to rural India’s, the model suited just perfectly, benefitting a whole nation.

In war-torn Aleppo, Syria, Intelehealth model has been adopted and replicated with success.
Efforts For Good applauds this unique programme by a dynamic woman social entrepreneur and hopes more people across the world find the benefits of this one-of-a-kind community healthcare model. 


Also Read: Life After Death: Organs From This Kolkata Man & Indore Woman Save Eleven Lives

Love this story? Want to share a positive story?
Write to us: [email protected]
Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

A Group Of Karnataka Women Pushes Alcoholic, Abusive Husbands & Social Stigma Aside, Earns Through Recycling Workshop

Follow Us On

At thirteen, Neela was married off to a husband much older than her. At sixteen, she became a mother, and at nineteen, she was a widow. Despite having no regular income, she was faced with the daunting task of taking care of her in-laws, her own parents and of course, her little daughter. For young Neela, life has never known a trajectory where her voice is heard and her destiny is not blamed. That was until she came under the ambit of Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation and discovered a new identity for herself. The taste of financial independence was indeed delightful for her, but her zeal to work hard for a newer, better life stood at the helm of it all.

No one has ever become poor by giving – Anne Frank

Founded by Kameshwari from Bengaluru, the foundation works with distressed women in three Karnataka villages, helping them to earn their livelihood by handcrafting a wide range of decorative or daily-use household items. Like Neela, nineteen women with struggles similar or worse, have found a new lease of life at Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation. Every piece of item created at Hosa Belaku is recycled from leftover fabrics, paper, dry waste or scrap metals.

Hosa Belaku – a new dawn

“I have been working in the social sector for the past two decades. Since 2013, I got associated with Belaku Trust, who was working with rural women in Karnataka,” shares Kameshwari, a former legal executive. 

“Most of these women were victims of alcohol abuse and harassment on the domestic front. Some were widowed, single mothers or differently-abled – making life all the more hard for them in a patriarchal society. Unfortunately, circumstances led Belaku Trust to close their operations in 2015. The women were left in a lurch,” she narrates.

Some of these women desperately pleaded with Kameshwari to let them sustain their only source of income and independence. Moved by their plight, Kameshwari resolved to do her best to help as many women as possible. Investing a sizeable proportion of her own savings, she launched the Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation in 2017.

At present, the foundation has active workshops in three villages in the suburbs of Bengaluru, namely, Halasuru, Achalu and Kadahalli. 

Support the cause you care for. Browse All CampaignsBrowse all campaigns
Work in progress

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

1,36,505 Raised
Out of 3,85,000

Share

The gritty women of Hosa Belaku

At the prime of her life, Pavithra’s husband left her for another woman. Heartbroken and devastated, she was clueless about how to earn her living. The story is similar for many other women in these villagers, with careless, abusive or estranged husbands, most being alcohol addicts. The pangs of poverty would sometimes become more unbearable than the constant physical abuse by their husbands. Yet, they had no way to have some respite from the ordeal. Few women did work seasonally as agricultural labourers. The backbreaking toil in the sun would take a toll on their health, while the deplorable situation at their homes would haunt them for the rest of the year.

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

Kameshwari mortgaged her jewelery for Rs 6 lakh to start Hosa Belaku Artisian's Foundation. Most of the women employed in this foundation face domestic violence in their homes. Kindly donate here : bit.ly/hosabelaku

Posted by Efforts For Good on Sunday, July 21, 2019

Society, with its primitive doctrines, only made it worse for these women. For instance, nobody was willing to marry Shivlingi because she had a facial deformity. After a point, her own brothers abandoned her as if she had become a liability.

If one visits these women now, they would be found basking in their newfound success with Hosa Belaku. But, not only the women, Hosa Belaku’s workforce comprises a 19-year-old young man as well. All his life, Yogi, who is affected by Polio, had accompanied his mother everywhere. She used to work with the foundation until she recently passed away in an accident. Yogi’s father is visually-challenged, so the entire family received a major emotional and financial setback after his mother’s sudden demise. A helpless Yogi would painstakingly drag himself from door to door in search of work. “We took him in and trained him in toy-making. Now you would find him in a corner, making beautiful toys for children,” shares a proud Kameshwari.

Sunshine, Lamp and Dawn – Illuminating lives

The women groups at the three villages are designated with three unique names and assigned with a unique task each. Kirana (Sunshine), the group at Kadahalli is involved with paper products, making notepads, bags and jewellery.

The Halsuru group Deepa (Lamp) has adopted the art of block printing. Vibrant, stylish and beautiful handbags, cushion covers, stoles and notebooks are curated with the utmost care and precision by the women.

At Ushe (Dawn), needle and thread rules. Women who were already skilled in sewing and embroidery now earn by making stuffed toys, patchwork products and embroidered fabrics.

True to their names, the groups have indeed brought new light into the lives of their employees.

Suma and Jayamma are both senior workers at Kirana who have succeeded in constructing small concrete houses for themselves, a huge step up from the dilapidated huts they spent their youth in. Another aged lady in the same group has another compelling achievement to be proud of. Bearing the taunts and trauma from her drunkard husband all her life, she has single-handedly raised a son and a daughter with proper education. Her son, who is currently an aspiring engineer, was supported with a laptop from Hosa Belaku. Honamma, a young widow from the group Deepa is treading a similar path, raising her son all on her own.

The only solace

How much gratitude these women have towards Hosa Belaku is perhaps evident from Shri’s unwavering dedication. Diabetes is taking a toll on her eyesight yet she refuses to give up and continues etching her grit on the ornate block-printed fabrics.

The reason for such gratitude is manifold. For the conscious urban consumers, Hosa Belaku is striving to save the environment with their 100%-recycled policy. But, for the workers, it is the lifeline which not only offers them economic security but also allows them a place to voice, share and resolve the problems plaguing their lives.

“They come here and find a peaceful break from their household obligations. Some still face domestic violence regularly, the workshop is an escape for them. They discuss their issues and try to find feasible solutions. It takes the load off their tired minds. The work here is a breath of fresh air for them,” Kameshwari asserts.

“We have been assisted time and again by established non-profits and retail chains across Bengaluru, who have graciously showcased and marketed products made by our artisans. We would like more people to know about Hosa Belaku and its incredible women, and respect their brilliant spirit by purchasing their crafts,” Kameshwari expresses her wish.

Let us know your thoughts on this story

Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
Next Click right arrow to read the next story Previous