In 2002, the World Bank reported that one episode of hospitalisation accounted for 58 percentage of per capita expenditure pushing 2.2 percentage of the population below the poverty line. Even more disconcerting is the fact that 40 percentage of those hospitalised had to borrow money or sell off assets. This often leads to families losing their primary earning source – the family’s agricultural land. It is not just the treatment cost but the added burden of lost wages, travel, and time of family members to care for the sick that take a toll. A 2004 State Government report found that health expenditures had been significant in increasing farmer debts, which in turn was a proximate cause of farmer suicides.
It is well documented that very few villages in India have easy access to qualified or trained health workers or doctors. To address this, Drishtee’s solution is to identify need and facilitate the identification and training of a women health franchisee at each village cluster – with each area plotted on pre-defined routes. In addition to orientation on business operations, Drishtee facilitates access to training on basic first aid, and non-invasive diagnostic and pathological tests.
This health franchisee is linked at the back end with a qualified MBBS doctor and laboratory technicians who take weekly physical rounds of villages; for the rest of the week, telephonic consults through the health franchisee.
The woman health franchisee has several advantages. Some of them are:
- She offers incremental but significant value without initially being perceived as a threat. She is accessible to at least 50% of the population (women) who hesitate to go to a male. She therefore quickly assimilates within the local eco-system
- She is generally more trusted by the population and is more responsive and caring particularly for children. She is also consistently available in the village with little risk of relocation
- The availability of diagnostics and basic pathology helps optimise the doctor time and costs
- She acts as a powerful role model for other women in the community