"Doctor Mom" Brings Healthcare to Her Rural Village
Several years ago, when Nandini Nath needed cash to buy seeds and pesticides for her barley and potato crops, her only option was to take a loan from her local loan shark, who charged her 60% interest. She took the loan because she didn’t have any other option.
When Nandini had a chance to join a self-help group through GramUtthan, Freedom from Hunger’s microfinance partner in Orissa, India, she jumped at it. For the first time, she had access to capital with terms that she could manage.
Like all of Freedom from Hunger’s partners, Gram-Utthan embraces an integrated approach to microfinance, so financial services are only the beginning. Nandini also received financial literacy training and access to health education and services. More importantly, she found her calling and her community gained a vital resource.
Because she had some formal education, good people skills and the confidence of her community, she was selected to become a Village Health Volunteer, or “Doctor Mom” as her neighbors call her.
After her initial training about how to prevent and manage common illnesses, she received her own Medicine Point, a wooden box stocked with an array of health products such as Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), water purification tablets, de-worming tablets and other simple, but essential, medicines and health products.
Every month, Nandini holds two health education forums (on topics such as diarrhea prevention and treatment, women’s health and the feeding of young children) for the self-help groups in her rural village of Sanoanko.
With oversight from a licensed pharmacist and a health supervisor, she helps her neighbors attend to their basic health needs, distributes essential health products from her “Medicine Point” when needed and refers them to other local health resources when more advanced care is required.
Along with all the value that Nandini adds, her neighbors now have access to savings and loan products through Gram-Utthan to help them deal with unexpected medical costs, which can cripple a family financially or cause them to delay seeking treatment.
Village Health Volunteers, like Nandini, are having a significant impact in rural areas, where access to medical care is limited. Research shows that, in a similar program implemented with our partner Bandhan, 96% of mothers are breastfeeding within an hour of birth, in comparison to 61% before the program was implemented. Eighty-eight percent of mothers are treating their sick children with Oral Rehydration Solution, a dramatic increase from 60%.
The people of Sanoanko see the impact firsthand. They no longer have to walk for miles to get simple health advice or deal with minor health issues. Nor are they cut off from health services when their village floods during winter rains. They have Nandini.
You can help Freedom from Hunger broaden its reach with even more programs.