New Delhi, Dec 6: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government in collaboration with Smile Foundation and Karma Healthcare have announced a path-breaking partnership initiative in India to increase community awareness on health and reduce existing barriers to accessing quality and affordable primary healthcare in Bhilwara district, Rajasthan.
Underscoring the partnership will be an intense community outreach programme, including public awareness campaigns, grassroots mobilisation, and screening drives for anaemia, malnutrition, non-communicable diseases, and vector borne diseases.
According to the India National Family Health Survey, 56 per cent of the district's women of reproductive age are anaemic, 42.6 per cent of children under the age of five are underweight and 12.9 per cent suffer from acute malnutrition. While the district has both public and private health care facilities, there is a shortage of clinics with qualified doctors.
To provide quality primary healthcare, six clinics will be established in target communities comprising five e-Doctor clinics, and one "Super-Spoke" clinic offering a wider range of diagnostic services.
Qualified female nurses, who will assist patients with a real-time consultation with a qualified doctor over an audio-video link, will operate the clinic.
This partnership will deliver improved primary healthcare options to a catchment area of more than 225,000 people and leverage Karma Healthcare's existing technology platform with the Smile Foundation's experience in community engagement.
Through its community education campaigns, Indian NGO Smile Foundation will bring about a shift in healthcare seeking behavior and raise awareness of the services available at the new clinics.
Karma Healthcare, an innovative health-tech enterprise, currently operates 22 e-Doctor clinics as well as diagnostic services and referral services to over three million people in Rajasthan and Haryana states.
In addition to providing critical co-investment, improving health and gender equality outcomes is a goal that aligns with Australian priorities under the Australia-India health Memorandum of Understanding. It also aligns with Australia's India Economic Strategy, which identifies health as a priority sector.
By improving both their knowledge of and access to quality primary health care, communities in Bhilwara district will be better able to make informed decisions about their health and, with them, improved health outcomes.
Further, the intense community outreach accompanying this partnership aims to increase the number of people attending the clinics, therefore increasing the commercial viability of the clinics.
While women and children are identified as the primary beneficiaries of this initiative, the e-Doctor services and health outreach are available to all members of the community, according to an official statement here. (UNI)