Healthcare is the foundation of everything Mukti Bosco

16_AMZ2912- VOF2015 - photo azucconi.jpg

Organisation: Healing Fields Foundation
Category: Health & Social Enterprises
Country: India

Healing Fields Foundation is based in India and aims to provide access to health and livelihoods to the poor.

Unhealthy behaviours and practices are the origin of most preventable illnesses, yet large populations remain unequipped with basic education to avoid falling sick. In India, 62% of people do not wash their hands with soap before eating, 70% do not wash with soap before preparing food, and 47% do not wash with soap after using the toilet. Only 26% of the population follows treatment of diarrhoea with oral rehydration salts as recommended. Less than half of mothers practice optimal breastfeeding: only 41% initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life, which is shown to reduce new-born deaths by up to 22%8, and only 46% practice exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months. 18% of girls are married by age 15, and by age 18, 47% are married and 22% will have had at least one child. Through our Community Health Facilitators (CHF) program, Healing Fields focuses on education about prevention-focused health practices to address the root cause of health problems in India today.

In India, only about 10.5% of people have access to toilets, while approximately 89.5% have to defecate in the open (World Bank Report 2010). According to the World Health Organization, 80% of India’s diarrheal diseases are the result of drinking water contaminated by poor sanitation.700,000 Indians die of diarrhoea every year, which account for 1600 deaths per day.

Almost 80% of women in India do not use sanitary napkins, mainly due to non-availability of clean sanitary napkins, lack of awareness and poverty.(A.C Nielsen Study 2011).Early marriages and pregnancies and lack of birth spacing are still major problems in India leading to maternal and infant mortality. Lack of proper toilet facilities and poor menstrual hygiene result in vaginal and urinary infections in young women leading to other complications.

In India, 60% of child deaths and 51% of adult deaths are preventable. 1.7 million children will not survive to see their fifth birthday, and the average lifespan is 5 years shorter than the world average.

However, no prevention efforts can ever be foolproof, and episodes of illness are inevitable. Yet most families face a ticking time bomb: once ill, access to treatment may be miles away, if available at all. Even then the quality may be dangerously low or unregulated. At the public primary health centres (PHCs) in rural India, there is a 10.3% shortfall of doctors compared to the requirement. Only 52.7% women have safe deliveries in India. Only 37% of expecting mothers attend the recommended doctor visits during pregnancy, and only 52% have a skilled attendant present at delivery. Inadequate local healthcare access poses a risk on the scale of hundreds of millions of Indians.

With illness inevitable, so are the costs. With an average individual income of $3.86, even small expenses for treatment or medicine are enough to push a family into spiralling debt. 39 million additional people falling into poverty every year as a result of healthcare expenditures alone.
Rural India offers insufficient opportunities to earn a decent and steady income, especially for women. Only 16% of women in India are employed, and women in rural India make 31-37% less income than men.

When it comes to solving healthcare challenges in India, the stakes are high. An estimated 33 billion years of life are lost each year due to avoidable health circumstances. We continuously develop and improve our solutions in health education, healthcare access and healthcare affordability to improve the quality of life through better health outcomes.

There is no single flaw in the healthcare system that is to blame. Instead, Healing Fields aims to solve the distinct challenges that persist across the dimensions of health education, healthcare access and healthcare affordability which together contribute to India’s health dilemma.

Our Vision

Our vision is to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all people in India, especially the poor, underprivileged and marginalized’.
We aim to bring this to life through the activities of our Community Health Facilitators program, which leverages the following strategies:
• Scalable health education system
• Innovative health financing model
• Economic empowerment through health microenterprises
• Community-level Health infrastructure development
Across all dimensions of our work, we integrate a research-based methodology to assess these dynamic healthcare challenges, based on the needs of the communities we intend to serve.