Trif / Healthcare
Rural Healthcare Initiative
Health Matters

Rural Healthcare Initiative

Health Matters

One measure of rural poverty is the poor have very limited access to nutrition and rural healthcare in India.

Poor health is nearly a given for children born into poor homes, starting with their mothers. Pregnant women face challenges ranging from ignorance, low reproductive age, inadequate medical access, to gender bias which gives no importance to the well-being of women.

Mothers who are not getting nourishing food during pregnancy, including an iron-rich diet, suffer, often resulting in premature births, underweight babies and even infant and maternal mortality.

Those who do deliver live babies and survive childbirth face other challenges in raising these children. Infants born to women who are suffering from nutritional deficiencies have lower immunity and are more susceptible to disease.

Poverty, ignorance and lack of medical access then keeps them that way and overall healthcare in Indian villages can remain from poor to non-existent. The rural poor are susceptible to unscientific beliefs that bar them having nutritional supplements such as iron tablets or fortified foods.

Undernourishment can lead to poor cognitive ability, lower immunity and death among children under the age of six. Malnourishment impairs height, weight and leads to wastage in children.

Eventually, a child who is malnourished and undernourished ends up with a greater range of physical and cognitive problems compared with a healthy one. Worse, such children remain behind in adulthood. This means even when we give them equal opportunities, they are unable to optimise those.

Our work involves creating greater awareness on preventative and reproductive health, ensuring that mothers, babies and children are able to avail India’s public nutrition program which is amongst the largest in the world.

To ensure the delivery of this we work closely with both government agencies as well as NGOs that run rural healthcare initiatives in India.

We also work to improve both the village healthcare centres and work with partner NGOs to improve the availability of primary healthcare centres with trained staff. This helps raise the threshold for preventive healthcare across genders, making untreated communicable diseases less common in deprived communities.

Plotting our work

Creating awareness through our health vectors to make pregnant women understand the importance of better nutrition through Badlao didis, who work to transform poor attitudes to reproductive health and nutrition

Work with partners and government agencies to engage women collectives on sensitizing them about the importance of the child's nutrition for the first 1000 days. This helps the government in the delivery of the world’s largest nutrition program for children - the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

Work with partners and the government to create awareness on menstrual hygiene, access to public healthcare and knowledge about reproductive health and hygiene.

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Meet our beneficiaries

Bhura didi

Bhura was like other women in her community , who always felt weak and tired but never put it down to low iron in her blood. After our healthcare volunteers got in touch with her she started growing iron-rich vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, and other veggies for diet diversity including onion, brinjal, and even pulses for protein in her kitchen garden. This helped her introduce new foods in her everyday cooking. Her iron levels improved and she no longer complains of fatigue. She also sells vegetables from her garden to support her income, making her a role model in the community.

Manisha Maida

Manisha is an auxiliary nurse in her village and has been getting training for three years on how to better help the community. Her everyday tasks include monitoring the health and wellness of mothers, infants and pregnant women and ensuring that they get the right kind of counsel on health and nutrition. 

As a result of her participation, she has been able to refer pregnant women in time for better care, make sure mothers and children eat better and they get key vaccinations on time.

Ideas that work

The Magic in a Wok

A large number of women in rural India are not even aware that regular tiredness is a result of an iron deficiency. This gets exacerbated during pregnancy or their menstrual cycles. Rural communities also mistrust iron-fortification tablets for a range of reasons.
So TRIF’s health vectors encourage women to cook in iron utensils, which automatically improves iron in the food. It is an inexpensive and easy way to reduce iron deficiency in the diet. It also takes less convincing than iron tablets which have a lower adoption because of poor beliefs that they darken the complexion.

Colours On My Plate

To encourage diet diversity we have introduced the idea of having three colours of foods on the daily food plate. By simplifying the idea of diet diversity as a patch of green, yellow and white, we encourage women to think of leafy greens, adequate protein and carbohydrates in the diet. 

This has worked really well where women have started growing the local green vegetables in their kitchen garden and diversified their source of proteins from pulses to eggs, rice and greens.

Helping women eat a balanced diet has improved the overall health of women in a reporoductive age and resulted in safer pregnancies and healthier babies.