A Grassroots Movement for Rural Healthcare

December 16, 2008

This month's National Geographic has a long article on the effects of the Jamkhed health care movement, Necessary Angels in India. It is an amazing look at the grassroots power of providing basic health care — primarily preventive and environmentally holistic — in an area under-served by allopathic and ayurvedic techniques alike. This is a movement that has the same potential as the Grameen Bank, as the Green Belt Movement. It is changing lives, communities, and ecosystems.

A few lessons that can be learned:

  • Importance of focusing development efforts on those with the "lowest" status (typically women, here untouchable women);
  • Basic needs assessment emphasized over (but not exclusively) advanced medical treatments;
  • Bringing science to the people;
  • Self-organizing principals at the local level, including ability of those "on the ground" to make decisions and act locally without having to go back for expert guidance.

Tangent: there is much here convergent on Lean principles of management. This movement is eliminating a lot of waste in the way of delivering health care.

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