New Delhi, April 11, 2019
India accounts for 25% of the global burden of newborn deaths in the world. Four out of five newborn deaths result from three treatable conditions: complications during childbirth (including birth asphyxia), newborn infections, and complications from prematurity. Ironically, close to 80% of these deaths are preventable and treatable.
Among many health system bottlenecks, key ones include low number and competency of health workers, health system infrastructure, lack of doctors, health service delivery and community ownership and partnership. Rural and tribal areas suffer the highest risk because of low access to quality health care services. In the context that a staggering 70% of India’s population still live in rural areas and have none or limited access to hospitals and clinics, AIF’s Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) is a community – focused health intervention that addresses some of these aforesaid bottlenecks.
The core of the MANSI model is empowering local frontline health worker, knowns as ASHAs. They are thoroughly trained in proven, low-cost, low-technology interventions to save mothers and newborns during pregnancy, at birth, and immediately after birth. MANSI builds the capacities of women and community groups through scaling up a successful home-based neonatal and child care (HBNCC) model.
Five ASHAs trained under AIF’s MANSI program were honored with Healers of India Awards at the Grand Finale Awards Night in Delhi on April 11, 2019. The evening was graced by NITI Aayog CEO, Shri Amitabh Kant, who also presented awards to the winners. Several prominent medical practitioners and healthcare policy makers were also present. AIF is grateful to the Tarsadia Foundation USA for enabling advocacy efforts, leading to the recognition of ASHA workers and their roles in saving the lives of mothers and children.
Healers of India, a joint endeavor by Network 18 and Apollo Hospitals, aims to find, recognize, and reward the unsung heroes of healthcare who are working silently behind the scenes in far flung remote areas of India. Good health comes at the intersection of many variables and more often than not it is the rural poor who are left bereft of critical care. In fact, almost 75% of India’s healthcare infrastructure is concentrated towards cities catering to only 27% of our population. The doctor-patient ratio is at one doctor for every 1596 patients, far below the WHO recommendation of having one doctor for every 1000 people. The void, particularly in rural India is huge, but there are many individuals and organizations who recognize this gap and have taken it up as a challenge to fill this void. Healers of India is a salute to these individuals and organizations. It is a celebration of their tireless efforts, their undying spirit, and infectious enthusiasm for creating a better and healthier India.
In its second edition, the 2019 Healers of India Awards in the ASHA Workers category, awards were given to: Jileswari Apat from Odisha; Kunta Rani from Uttarakhand; Manju Devi from Uttarakhand; Pinki from Uttrakhand; and Taramuni Shankh from Jharkhand.
AIF’s good fortune was doubled at the Awards Night – the founders of MANSI’s technical partner, SEARCH Gadchiroli – Drs Abhay and Rani Bang received the Dr Prathap C Reddy Selfless Service Award. The AIF team extends heartiest congratulations to Dr Abhay & Dr Rani Bang, and to the award-winning ASHAs. They will inspire over 4000 ASHAs who receive training under AIF’s MANSI program in saving the lives of mothers and babies in India.
-Rowena Kay Mascarenhas