Her healing touch gives health to underprivileged

Hyderabad's innovative community healthcare scheme has healing powers

Mukti K Bosco during fieldwork (DH Photo)

The Healing Fields Foundation in Hyderabad is hailed as an innovative community healthcare initiative. This success story owes its origins to Mukti K Bosco, the co-founder of the organisation. An occupational therapist by profession, she took the initiative to start this venture to provide health benefits to the underprivileged. 

In an effort to take her plans forward, Mukti, along with a few like-minded people, toured rural and tribal areas for two years to understand whether it was the road that she wanted to take. This was in 1998. “We soon realised that healthcare in our country is hospital-based and that we need to make it community-based for people to have access to healthcare. That is how the Foundation was born in 2000,” Mukti says. 

Health programmes

Soon, Mukti and her Foundation launched the first-ever, need-based micro health insurance scheme initially covering Rangareddy, Warangal, Adilabad and Nizamabad districts of Telangana in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh. The scheme was supported by a private health insurance firm. 

“We have in place facilitators called Arogya Mitras to help people with our health insurance policies visiting hospitals. Our aim is to make healthcare affordable and accessible to the poor,” she says. According to this scheme, insurance companies pay 75% of the bill amount while the patients pay the remaining 25% at the time of discharge from the hospital. This programme was started in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam. Till date, the Foundation has trained about 4,500 women
in as many villages. Each woman has, in turn, trained about 250 families by reaching out to 5.8 million people. 

Under this programme, women selected for training were made aware of various government health schemes and subsidies; health insurance options available; the importance of clean drinking water and sanitation; procedure to register an Anganwadi centre; how to become an Asha (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker; the benefits of colostrum to newborns; ways of cooking nutritious meals; Red Cross-recognised first-aid practices; treating people for scorpion bites, accidents, fracture, pesticide poisoning, and burns.  For the upgradation of their skills, the Foundation has partnered with Stanford Emergency Medicine, and the pilot project is seeing a successful conclusion in Bihar and UP, where facilitators are upgraded as basic health care providers in their villages.

They have been given Tablets to enter all the medical details, which then will be seen by a doctor remotely. If required, the doctor then intervenes through a video call.“We set up a manual sanitary napkin manufacturing unit in Buxar in Bihar 11 years ago,” she recalls. Later, they expanded into fully automatic units in Mirzapur, Shaikpur and Muzzafarpur in Bihar. They manufacture ultra-thin pads at Rs 30 for a pack of six. Women volunteers earn a commission by selling these napkins.
They also sell toilet cleaners, home pregnancy kits etc.

“Earnings keep women engaged in what they do and lend them respectability. We also had third party evaluations of our programmes,” says Mukti.

Girl students from government schools were selected and trained through a structured training programme. They, in turn, educate their peers. “We have trained students in 15 schools in Hyderabad and 20 in Aurangabad, Bihar,” she says.

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