Arogya Sakhi Home-based Antenatal and Infancy Care programme creates women health entrepreneurs in resource-poor rural communities who provide affordable preventive healthcare to new and expectant mothers, children and families through counselling and primary-level diagnostic procedures.
Health indicators for rural areas are quite poor in comparison with urban areas. In the maternal and child health space, only 43.7% of mothers availed at least three antenatal care visits in rural areas as compared to 74.7% in urban areas; percentage of births assisted by a skilled personnel is 73.4% in urban against 37.4% in rural areas. Similarly, infant mortality rate is 41.7% in urban areas as compared to 62.1% in rural areas. (source: NFHS 3)
For a healthy pregnancy and infancy, regular monitoring through visits with a health-care provider is essential for timely detection of high risk factors, ensuring prompt referral and appropriate treatment, prevention of life-threatening complications and reduction of child mortality. However, inadequate access to public health care services in rural areas becomes a barrier while private health-care is usually unreliable and unaffordable. There is thus an urgent unmet need for improved access to home-based diagnostic, monitoring and curative services during the antenatal period and during childhood, which will also ensure reduction in costs of health care.
Women from within the community are selected and trained to become Arogya Sakhis. They perform home-based preventive care, diagnostic and treatment interventions during the antenatal and infancy period
Equipped to perform basic diagnostic tests
Arogya Sakhis are equipped with medical kits and trained to perform basic diagnostic tests including haemoglobin, blood sugar, urine, blood pressure, foetal doppler and anthropometric measurements.
Leveraging technology through mobile application for better care and improved efficiency
Arogya Sakhis are supported by a mobile application that guides them through the care process, helps identify high-risk signs and symptoms and gives alerts regarding the need for referral.
Creating women health entrepreneurs
As the Arogya Sakhis are trained and charge a nominal sum for diagnostic tests, they are empowered financially and through skill-enhancement.
Arogya Sakhi was implemented as part of a Randomized Cluster Trial (RCT) in 250 villages with 166 sakhis across Solapur, Washim & Osmanabad in rural Maharashtra with the following results:
- 20.3% increase in women who made 4 or more ANC visits
- 22.0% increase in infants (< 1 yr of age) who have tripled their birth weight at the end of infancy
- 27% increase in women who were aware of the need for growth monitoring every month
A 3-year project (2017-2020) is currently being implemented through 60 Sakhis in two rural/tribal blocks of Palghar district in Maharashtra. The sakhis aim to reach over 6000 women and children in Jawhar and Mokhada.