Since 2003, ARTH began forming women self-help groups, with the aim of organising communities for improving their access to health care. ARTH has formed a total of 105 SHGs in the field area. Using SHGs’ social network as a community health platform, ARTH attempts to enhance people’s access to health care.
5 key strategies to support health care through SHGs
- Formation of SHGs to create a platform for women to discuss their health concerns and ways to address them
- The swasthya sakhi (SS), a health friend, is a member of the self help group. She provides health education, access to medicines and assistance in accessing health care. The SSs were trained extensively and provided pictorial communication materials. The work based honorarium paid to the SSs appears to be a good motivating factor. They have played an instrumental role in preventing maternal deaths in their villages by bringing the women to the health centres on time, after identifying their danger signs.
- SHG support to field clinics: To provide health care services in remote villages ARTH organizes monthly field clinics within the villages. A team of nurse-midwife and male social worker goes to a village, where they provide a wide range of primary care services- ante natal care, family planning, immunization, treatment for common illnesses. SHG members help to organize the field clinic, inform people about the clinic and escort patients, if required.
- Emergency health fund-reducing vulnerability
- SHG support to adolescent girls’ education