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

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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

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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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