by Charmi Saujani
The Daily Wage Worker Platform (DWW) has collaborated with reputed NGOs - namely Operation Asha, Smile Foundation and The Medics, to launch Project Swaasthya. This project will be implemented in targeted cities by the NGOs and coordinated by DWW. Swaasthya aims to provide a comprehensive emergency healthcare package to daily wage workers in urban slums, which includes basic health services like counselling, screening & diagnosis, medical & sanitary kits and hospital referrals. This will be achieved at an average cost of less than Rs. 1.5 per day per person (i.e., Rs. 110 per person for 3 months), by adopting telemedicine and mobile health systems.
With regards to the launch of this initiative, a webinar was organised on 3rd July 2020 at 6pm IST, with an esteemed panel including Sandeep Ahuja (Founder & CEO of Operation Asha), Sanjeev Dham (Chief Operations Officer of Smile Foundation), Dilip Samal (Director of The Medics) and Siddhartha Prakash (Founder of DWW) and Priyanka Dahiya (Co-founder of DWW) as moderator.
The webinar provided the viewers with a lot of valuable information about the project, the collaborating organisations and its functioning. Siddhartha spoke about the genesis and recent success of DWW and the emergence of the Swaasthya initiative to focus on the big issue: the lack of healthcare.
Sandeep introduced Operation ASHA, which is supported heavily by technology and serves over 10.5 billion people living in over 5000 slums in India & Cambodia, thus becoming the 3rd largest tuberculosis control NGO in the world. In the Swaasthya project, they will provide soaps, telemedicine and sanitary pads for women. Telemedicine will be supplied by TC4A, whose technology provides “practically successful and inexpensive stethoscopes”.
Sanjeev talked a bit about the Smile Foundation and how after serving over 20 million meals to migrant and daily wage workers across India in the COVID crisis, it has joined the Swaasthya project to serve the urban slum population using its blended model of telemedicine and the Smile on Wheels (mobile vans). Sanjeev highlighted the lack of primary healthcare services for the urban slum population as compared to the presence of healthcare structures in rural areas.
Dilip explained how The Medics, starting in 1992, has worked for community health. Through the present crisis, The Medics’ volunteers helped slum inhabitants build a habit of washing hands properly and regularly and provided soaps. In the Swaasthya project, the Medics will “engage paramedics for manual health check ups of the migrant and daily wage workers providing telemedicine as well” (in serious cases).
The Q&A session helped get information about the possible scaling up of the project, government involvement, quality checks of the healthcare provided and tangibility of the output from this project and much more.
Overall, the webinar served to communicate how the price of one meal can contribute to providing an emergency health package to a migrant worker who is currently lacking any income, food or basic healthcare. Effective and affordable primary healthcare in India is largely inaccessible to nearly 65 million migrant and daily wage workers and others in the informal economy. Their lives were impacted greatly by the COVID-19 crisis as they lost their livelihood, food security and access to basic healthcare under the two months lockdown in the country. The situation is dire and may lead to a bigger public health crisis than the COVID -19 pandemic itself, unless affordable and effective primary healthcare is immediately made available to these daily wage and migrant workers at their doorsteps.
The project will target 30,000 workers living in 20-30 slums across 3 different cities in India - Hyderabad, Angul and Delhi, with an overall budget of Rs. 33,00,000. The infrastructure, technology and human resources required for implementing the pilot project in these cities is largely already in place and has been utilised by these NGOs to conduct their previous programs with great success. As a result, the project can commence within a period of 10-12 days from receipt of funding. Partial funding has been received already from the Omidiyar Network to launch the pilot in Delhi, targeting a group of 10,000 slum dwellers in Okhla and will be implemented by Operation Asha.
The implementation of this initiative will have a large number of immediate and long term positive outcomes -> reducing burden on public healthcare systems, behavioural change in counselling, vital data for analysis, attracting public-private partnerships, and the possible scalability due to the self-sustainable nature of the project and its international viability.
Watch the full video here: