The Essar Foundation is bringing affordable, quality healthcare to India’s villages
While the private healthcare industry is thriving in India, access to quality healthcare remains a pipe dream for a majority of the rural population. Medical expenses continue to be a major cause of rural indebtedness according to UNICEF. Rural healthcare in most Indian states is suffering due to the absence of doctors and paramedical staff, low levels of skills among health workers, shortage of medicines and inadequate monitoring (source: Planning Commission Review).
Essar actively seeks to improve the health and happiness of people in communities close to its operations. Typically, the rural areas near Essar facilities tend to have low accessibility and thus very limited availability of healthcare services.
The Foundation has committed significant resources to support both preventive and curative healthcare in such communities, where disease and periodic epidemics are prevalent. The organization promotes awareness, enables access and increases the availability of health services in remote locations. It works closely with public healthcare providers to enhance capacity-building among staff. The Foundation also funds the provision of doctors and paramedics, builds new health centers, provides critical equipment such as ambulances, and manages mobile health services across its locations.
At present, the Essar Foundation provides healthcare services to more than 100,000 families. It also offers specialized services such as eye and dental care to more than 250,000 people.
- Deliver a comprehensive healthcare package to beneficiaries
- Strengthen existing systems by building capabilities of government healthcare providers
- Create health awareness
ACTIVITIES & PROJECTS
Infant health program
The infant mortality rate (IMR) in India is estimated to be around 60 for every 1,000 live births per year. The large variations in IMR between different regions of the country create additional issues for the government’s efforts to reduce this figure. States such as Kerala present lower IMR (14/1,000), while others such as Uttar Pradesh (83/1,000) and Orissa (96/1,000) have high numbers (source: UNICEF). If infant mortality is considered an indicator of the health status of infants as well as that of the entire population, then much still needs to be done in this area.
Preventive by nature, Essar’s infant health program aims to ensure infant well-being. The programs are usually held at a frequency of one in every quarter and happens at all the site locations. Some of the activities include awareness drives for vaccination and de-worming; health and weight check-ups; post-natal healthcare; and Healthy Baby competitions. The competitions are organized with the aim of creating awareness and emphasizing the need for good health during infancy to ensure good quality of life in later years. A team of doctors is invited to address the participants and audience regarding the importance of not just the health of the child but also the the family as a whole; they also highlight the various government health schemes available to the local population.
Mobile medical units
Essar’s mobile medical units (MMUs), complete with skilled doctors and paramedics, are deployed in villages around Essar facilities. These door-to-door health and healing facilities ensure neighboring rural communities have access to quality and timely primary healthcare. The MMUs also provide referral transport for secondary and tertiary treatment. MMUs have been deployed by the Foundation at all the company’s locations, and has reached out to over 100,000 people.
School health program
In an effort to improve overall health and reduce the occurrence of common infections among children, the Essar Foundation launched the school health program in 2011. Program activities include health education camps, adolescent health camps, physical education camps, World Health Day celebrations and increased availability of safe drinking water in schools.
Skills training and capacity-building
The Essar Foundation has instituted a health program that provides skills training and capacity-building for health workers. In 2010-11, around 300 people were given Mitanin training under the program in Chhattisgarh. Activities such as medical check-ups and child growth monitoring, vaccination camps, nutrition assessment and counseling for mothers are also undertaken.