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.