This partnership aims to increase community awareness of health information and the availability of health options and reduce the financial barriers to accessing quality and affordable primary health care in Bhilwara district in Rajasthan state. Underscoring the partnership will be an intense community outreach program including public awareness campaigns, grass roots mobilisation, and screening drives for anaemia, malnutrition, non-communicable diseases, and vector borne diseases.
This initiative aims to address an unmet need in preventive and curative health care in rural Rajasthan by utilising outreach services and nurse assisted e-Doctor clinics that are remotely supported by qualified physicians, and to improve health outcomes by enhancing the number of people seeking access to formal primary health care. The partnership also aims to contribute to scaling a business model that provides preventive and curative services in remote areas that can be ultimately self-sustaining.
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 health care, six clinics will be established in target communities comprising of 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. The e-Doctor clinics will also have a mobile medical unit providing referrals from the e-Doctor clinics to the “Super Spoke” clinic. The clinics will provide services to all members of the community, with a specific focus on anaemia and malnutrition in women and their families. This partnership will deliver improved primary health care options to a catchment area of more than 225,000 people.
This partnership will leverage Karma Healthcare’s existing technology platform with the Smile Foundation’s experience in community engagement. Through its community education campaigns, the Smile Foundation will bring about a shift in health care seeking behavior and raise awareness of the services available at the new clinics. Karma Healthcare 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. In demonstrating the commercial viability of Karma Healthcare’s e-Doctor “Super-Spoke” model in Bhilwara district, this could be adopted elsewhere. 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.