Suswastha Partnership

Partnership objectives

  1. Educate and create health awareness in rural areas of India.
  2. Increase access to primary healthcare for rural patients.

Access to primary healthcare in target areas has increased following the distribution of referral cards enabling patients to reach doctors in their areas. Access to primary healthcare in target areas has increased following the distribution of referral cards enabling patients to reach doctors in their areas. Copyright Merck

What are the health needs and challenges?

India has a population of 1 billion with 70% of its population living in rural areas. Yet, urban areas account for approximately 70% of the hospital beds and 80% of healthcare professionals. There is approximately 15 times more beds per 1000 people in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Population in rural areas is expected to increase to 906 million by 2025. But doctors do not wish to serve in rural areas due to the lack of basic amenities and incentives. Hence a shortage of specialists and surgical services in rural areas, and an increasing disparity between urban and rural infrastructures.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

This project targets rural populations in India, focusing on awareness and access to primary healthcare, women and children's health, and prevention. Engagement is done through community-level meetings and weekly educative health programs by healthcare professionals.

Local GPs are also given educative sessions through Continuous Medical Education (CME), with the support of town healthcare professionals. The project is carried out in partnership with international NGOs such as AED and Clinton Foundation. There are currently discussions with USAID and the Indian National Rural Health Mission regarding their participation in the project.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

Pilots were initiated in small towns of two Eastern provinces of India (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) with a focus on small ailments such as cough and cold, women and children’s health, as well as everyday health protection. Products are identified and prices are adapted as per the needs of consumers in target areas.

Access to primary healthcare in target areas has increased following the distribution of referral cards enabling patients to reach doctors in their areas and loyalty programs allow patients to have free consultations with local dispensing GPs.

Since April 2013, an additional 1976 towns and villages have benefited from the program (including diarrhea management and access to safe drinking water), translating in an additional 190,000 patients reached.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Merck

Partner(s) Academy for Educational Development (AED), Clinton Foundation, Indian National Rural Health Mission, US Agency for International Development (USAID)

Type of Partner(s) Government, Multilaterals, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Children's Health, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Differential Pricing, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Targeted Population(s) Children, Health professionals, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, Women

Region(s) South Asia

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) India

Start Date 2013

More information Merck Awareness

Anticipated completion date Ongoing