The idea to set up a health‐related education program for community and self‐help group workers in rural India was brought up by two participants in our last weekly leadership program for international business managers. When they had visited several villages and health institutions, they realized that there was a huge gap in basic health knowledge. They felt that providing this kind of knowledge to motivated participants from the self‐help groups would be an important activity to improve local medical care. The concept for the full program had been developed after a pilot training and discussion with the self-help group members, where the needs, best practice execution and topics that should form the educational modules had been discussed. This was done together with the target groups from the city and self‐help group leaders from the rural areas as well as with the local active experts and supporters.
The training aims to enable self‐help group (SHG) workers to manage the first steps in health care by increasing awareness and knowledge of basic health‐related topics. This helps to recognize symptoms that might need medical care and to give access to local medical care. Self- help group members bring back the knowledge to their own families and friends and become the locally trusted contact person and binding element between the population and the existing local medical centers. Thus they improve actively the local health situation and share knowledge on how to live healthier. That’s why the entire program was elaborated with and for the target groups based on their own needs and values. It was really interesting to learn which health topics selfhelp group members are interested in and why the topics they discussed are really the most relevant to them: nutrition, mental health, hygiene, women issues, how to create a heathier environment, addictions, elderly care … and how they can implement better health conditions on their own , also based on their costumes, the financial means and daily challenges.
On 03/04 April 2017 the program was launched and the first health module on nutrition has taken place. 40 women and men leading 20 self-help groups participated.
One of the local doctors gave a presentation on healthy and unhealthy food, including many pictures that were easy to understand. He explained the balance of healthy nutrition, the quality and the quantity of food needed as well as the best times to eat during the course of a day. He covered the topics of malnutrition and its consequences and what food is required at a certain age, e.g. for neonates, children, adolescents and elderly people. Lastly the locally very important topic of anemia and vitamin deficiencies were being explained, where the participants for example learned that vitamin A is important for good vision and vitamin D for the bones and where they can take it from. Participants were especially interested on how to make nutritious food with minimal resources. They learned that even low cost ingredients, such as lentils and beans, may deliver healthy protein to their family. The local doctor challenged the participants to create a recipe based on such ingredients in combination with locally available food. The participants were very creative and came up with nice recipes. With pride they presented it to the whole group thereafter.
The group played the Making More Health (MMH) game on nutrition. Questions and answer cards covering questions on certain categories, such as needs of the elderly, children growth, pregnancy, and diabetes were being raised to the participants. For every question answered correctly, the participant won a small prize. The prize? Carrots, potatoes, apples, oranges and other types of vegetables and fruits. There was lots of enthusiasm to get the answers right. At the end, the participants carried a full bag of fruits and vegetables home.
If you are interested in the game and/or you want to know more about it, please feel free to contact (a small donation to the NGO to support our SHGs for further educational local iniatives is very welcome).
Based on the experiences of this first training, the local doctors and experts and most importantly the participants from the self‐help groups are highly committed to participate in the entire 2 years program. An effective cooperation with local experts from the medical and NGO world is an ideal opportunity to make this program sustainable. We really look forward to the next training module!
Are you/your colleagues agile enough to develop innovative ways of doing that go far beyond traditional Corporate Social responsibility?
If you/your managers are ready to have a look beyond the traditional way of health institutions, statistics and traditional ways of doing, if you want to learn more about values and ways of thinking in these communities, if you want to talk to experts who know the people and their needs well and have a more holistic idea on how educational and/or social and business-oriented programs can be successful, the innovative and “out of the comfort” leadership experience might be a good starting point. For more information on the leadership program (social entrepreneurial focus, sustainablity, how to combine business and social contributions, fair price, international exchange), please see http://www.innovindia.org or contact me directly. I look forward to meet you in India!