Health Screening Camps
Screening camps bring healthcare to communities that cannot access public healthcare facilities on their own. There are many reasons why poor communities don’t access public healthcare – either the clinics are too far away, or they are dysfunctional because of a lack of staff. In some cases the poor are not treated well in public healthcare facilities simply because they are poor; this is a major disincentive for them to go to a primary healthcare clinic even if it is close to where they live. There is also a widespread perception that public healthcare facilities and services are sub par in India, so the poor don’t even consider turning to the public health system when they fall ill.
As a result, more often than not, even the poor go to private clinics for treatment. Out of pocket expenses become very high, particularly in the absence of insurance cover, and one illness can drive a poor family into debilitating debt.
Anahat’s screening camps have brought free, quality healthcare to the doorsteps of poor communities in Bangalore. We have also brought local Primary Health Centres into the fold through our advocacy efforts with the Government of Karnataka, creating linkages between ASHA workers and the communities they are meant to service.
At these screening camps, patients are provided with access to a general physician and a digitised case file is opened. This file becomes the patient’s health record, that can be accessed wherever they are.
Medicines are also provided for free. In serious cases, patients are referred to the closest secondary or tertiary healthcare facility for a second opinion, specialised treatment and/or follow up care.
Anahat’s screening camps are our in road into lower income communities. Over the years of partnering with many different kinds of organisations, and conducting hundreds of screening camps with many different kinds of communities, we have developed a screening protocol to maximise resources and time at the health camps.
Digitising patient data has many advantages. For one, the patient has a file that she can carry with her for all treatment, so the doctor or attending health practitioner can see the case history and treat accordingly.
Digitisation of patient data also helps to create disease profiles for communities, which in turn is useful in tracking changing health outcomes for communities at a meta-level.
mHealth is Anahat’s technology platform for frontline health workers to input and digitise patient data. mHealth offers a front end mobile app interface that is easy to use for data entry, and a back end dashboard that analyses and visualises community disease profiles in a format that’s easy to understand.
Capacity building for frontline health workers
India has a cadre of frontline health workers called ASHA workers, whose job it is to educate their local communities on preventive health practices. Their job is to “create awareness on health and its social determinants and mobilize the community towards local health planning and increased utilization and accountability of the existing health services.”
There are almost 1 million ASHA workers in India today, who face many challenges on the ground – they are often underpaid or not paid at all, to start with. They are burdened with many different tasks sometimes beyond the realm of health, to do as part of their daily work. They are not given the right tools to develop their own knowledge of healthcare, in order to do their jobs better.
If ASHA workers were equipped with the right tools and incentives, India’s public health system would be very different from what it is today.
At Anahat, we firmly believe that the ASHA worker is one of the most important pieces of the public health puzzle. Building her capacity and knowledge of preventive health is therefore key. Last year we entered into an agreement with Project ECHO to build capacities of frontline health workers in preventive health, at scale.