Aarogya Sakhis: How rural women are helping provide medical aid to 15,000 villagers!
What do you do when you need health checkup done for your little ones or ailing parents but the only doctor in the vicinity is nearly 100 km far from you! This is still fine, but not in a case of emergency. What if you lack the required mode of transport as well as road access to reach the clinic in time?
This is precisely the problem that rural India today is facing. Basic access to healthcare provided by the government isn’t sufficient & there is little to none medical help & facilities available to villagers in case of emergencies.
To add to this, health care awareness of people in rural India is poor due to low literacy rates. So many times preventive measures to avoid medical emergencies are not taken by the rural India. Specifically, rural women do not want to get health checkups done because of the lack of female doctors available.
It is thus a boon when organizations like the Swayam Shiksha Prayog (SSP) try to fill in these essential gaps which our government cannot fully cater to.
SSP is an NGO which works extensively with rural women in Maharashtra & Bihar for their social upliftment as well as to aid in rural entrepreneurial initiatives.
Founded almost 21 years ago by social activist Prema Gopalan, SSP aimed towards women empowerment at the grassroots level, by inculcating leadership & entrepreneurial skills in these women. One of its remarkable programs “Aarogya Sakhi” empowers rural women to become health care workers for villages in their vicinity. These Sakhis are trained to provide basic medical tests to the village women.
With a team of about 20 Sakhis, SSP is now providing basic medical facilities like blood pressure testing, glucose testing to over 1500 rural women. The test results are shared over a tablet with urban doctors over cloud; these doctors then diagnose & share the results with the Sakhis. The Sakhis then share the prescribed diagnosis & treatment with their rural beneficiaries.
On an average, an Aarogya Sakhi earns Rs 50-70 per beneficiary, thus becoming self-sufficient & helping provide better medical facilities to the nearby villages. So far Aarogya Sakhis are helping 53 villages in Maharashtra to provide basic healthcare services at affordable prices.
With better technology intervention, these medical workers would also be able to provide more impactful services like ECG or Hb testing etc to the village folk. What we can do is volunteer to ‘Shramadaan’ or donate your sweat without leaving the comforts of your offices.
Doctors, medical social workers, & other qualified urban people can donate their sweat to provide medical diagnosis & treatment service to these rural patients via cloud technology. More & more people can thus benefit from the expert opinions of the city dwelling medical fraternity.
Other professionals can also volunteer to provide primary medical aid to nearby villages by assisting these Sakhis once a week or on weekdays. Qualified people & students can also hold counselling sessions for rural India to assist them to become strong not just physically but also mentally & to face the challenges they face in their day to day lives with much more confidence & rigor.
What SSP does is one model of helping the rural India but there are many more such NGOs which are also working at the grass-root & are in dire need of not the money but a voluntary contribution of our skillsets.
If all of us decide to lend a helping hand to the rural population, there would be much more socio-economic equality between the cities & villages. There is no better gift than the gift of health, education, nutrition or proper living conditions for the poor. If we contribute our time, energy & sweat to any of these burning needs, the future generation of the country will see a much healthier & wealthier India!
Tags: Aarogya Sakhi, Best Nonprofit Blog, Best Volunteering Ideas in Maharashtra, Inspirational Volunteer Stories, Medical Social Workers, Rural Healthcare Volunteering, Socio Economic Development of Rural India, Swayam Shiksha Prayog, Volunteering for Rural India, Women Empowerment Volunteering