The poor lose one to two months of productive time in a year due to illness in their family. Also, nearly 50-60% live with some form of undiagnosed illness and die earlier than those economically better off.
In India alone, about 50-60 million people in the last decade have been pushed to the brink of poverty because of health-related expenditures. And, this pushes them further into poverty and marginalization, making them and their future generations vulnerable to violence, ill health and abuse.
Our partnership with the Ashraya Hastha Trust partnership since September 2018 has enabled ramping up efforts to make healthy days a reality for marginalized communities. The goal is to enable them to break the intergenerational, vicious cycle of poverty, ill health and violence that they are trapped in.
Among marginalized communities Swasti has been working with (female sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people), our intensive work spans across five states predominantly—Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Our partnership bolstered the Invest for Wellness (i4we) project, which has a two-pronged strategy to help those from marginalised communities:
First, to facilitate sustained access to health and wellbeing services, tailored to best serve their needs. We ensure that members can navigate their way through primary healthcare and pre-existing secondary and tertiary providers (where required).
Take the case of Arfeen who has had a swollen cheek since she was three months old. The swelling has been growing since. Her family had consulted various doctors in their hometown, but none of them were able to diagnose her. This was brought to our notice during one of the health camps we conducted. She was referred to a doctor in St. John’s Hospital and has been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. She was operated on in June 2021, free of cost.
Second, we focus on building capacities of community organizations (COs) through various ways like mobilizing resources, being self-sustaining, and addressing the requirements of its members ranging across social protection, financial inclusion and literacy, access to realization of rights and entitlements; safety, security and justice and more.
Between September 2018 and August 2021, 2,946 members have started alternative livelihood activities; 25,514 i4we members got social entitlements (IDs), and 29,184 memebrs have received health insurance. Our partnership has bettered the lives of thousands of marginalized people and this is no small feat.