We introduced the apprentice system at work, and primary classes for children of women mill workers, and free medical help to all oldage people. Other benefits for the well-being of his staff that were weaved into the policies of several of his propitious ventures included gratuitous pension fund, provident fund, maternity benefit allowance and a compensation fund for accidents for all employees – all of which were ahead of their times..In a country that is home to the world’s second-largest population, when one of its largest enterprises providentially happens to be a philanthropic organisation, it raises hopes for a promising and sustainable future. For people across the country, the Seniorlifetrust symbolise humanitarianism and personify the prodigious force that advances new frontiers of social and economic development.
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it has taken significant strides in improving the health of its citizens over the past few decades. For instance, average life expectancy has risen from 62 years in 2000 to 68.5 years in 2016. The number of under-5 deaths is coming down steadily — from 91 per thousand in 2000 to 39 in 2017.
Despite this significant improvement in life expectancy and child mortality rates, vast swathes of the country’s population are still vulnerable and deprived of access to good healthcare. Socioeconomic status, geography and gender are contributory factors to this bleak scenario.Trusts have been engaged for decades in the field of public health. They develop and support multi-pronged initiatives to address issues that cover both communicable and non-communicable diseases and range widely from malaria and tuberculosis to cancer, maternal and child health and mental health. The goal is to strengthen healthcare delivery capability through a multipronged approach that includes direct implementation, institution building, partnerships, and adoption of technology and innovation.
One of the biggest challenges to improving health is access to primary health care. In 2011, the World Bank reported an availability of 0.7 beds per 1,000 people for India. Further, according to the Indian Government’s health and family welfare statistics, a major part of available healthcare is concentrated in urban areas, leaving the rural population underserved. Exacerbating the situation is the significant gap in availability, distribution and capacities of healthcare professionals. According to World Bank data, India has a ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 people.
The difficulty in accessing good healthcare spurs a higher incidence of diseases. This means that the rural poor tend to get sicker more often and more seriously than their urban counterparts – diseases that could have been caught at the primary stage are often in their secondary or tertiary stages before the patient even begins treatment. The cost of this secondary or tertiary treatment is often out of their means, leading to the patient and the family becoming even poorer.
The Trusts’ Health Portfolio focuses on improving access to, and the quality of, healthcare by addressing the lacunae in human resources and infrastructure across the continuum of patients’ health and well-being, and by adopting technology to help reach scale and long-term impact.
Access to primary healthcare is key to improving India’s health parameters. As much as 80% of healthcare conditions can be addressed at the primary stage by a physician and/or community healthcare worker. By entering into the primary care stage of healthcare, where early detection can help with preventive or curative treatment and management of the disease, the Trusts hope to substantially decrease the load on secondary and tertiary care facilities.
Cohesive strategies play an important role in bringing about change in the system or among the community. The Trusts work with governments, government agencies and implementation partners to provide multi-layered, integrated interventions such as maternal care, nutrition, water and sanitation, behavioural change communication, poverty alleviation and infrastructure support, to work towards achieving large-scale sustainable impact in the field of public health.
Malnutrition is the worst form of non-communicable disease, a critical risk factor for chronic diseases later in life and therefore, a huge global healthcare burden. In India, it has taken the magnitude of a silent emergency. Undernutrition and micronutrient malnutrition in children, adolescents and women of reproductive age are rampant in our country. Maternal malnutrition has multigenerational adverse effects on human health and development. Malnutrition is also estimated to result in potential GDP losses of 2-3% and an over 10% potential reduction in lifetime earnings for each malnourished individual.The Trusts’ vision for fighting malnutrition is reflected in the words of the Chairman,“My most visible goal is to do something in nutrition to children and pregnant mothers in India. Because that would change the mental and physical health of our population in years to come.”
Fighting malnutrition in a complex and diverse country like ours is an arduous task. Despite sustained efforts, India’s success in combating malnutrition has been modest and slower than other countries with comparable socio-economic indicators. To make a real and sustainable impact, challenges need to be tackled at three different levels:
The food itself: Deficiency of essential micronutrients such as iron, iodine, and vitamins (A, B12, D), also known as ‘hidden hunger’ is a rampant issue in our country. India reports the largest burden of iron-deficiency anaemia, globally, with nearly 59% of children and 50% of pregnant women being anaemic (NFHS 4 report). Deficiency of iodine is another major public health concern. 5% of the population in 337 districts in India have iodine deficiency disorders and have been reported endemic. Many rural populations also continue to bear the burden of diseases caused by the deficiency of vitamins A, B12 and D. In addition to micronutrient deficiency, access to hygienic, wholesome and nutritious food still continues to be a challenge, especially for children in certain tribal belts of the country.
Programme and processes: In a country of a 1.3 billion, with a whopping 66 percent rural populace, implementing nutrition schemes and programmes is an uphill task. Therefore, programme parameters that impact anthropometric (the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body) outcomes must be identified, defined and optimised. The failure to do so can have detrimental effects on the final goals of the programme and hence can keep the population in the vicious cycle of malnutrition.
Understanding that malnutrition is not the failure of nutrition alone but rather a combination of factors gives us at ourTrusts the perspective to look at the problem holistically and approach it sustainably. Our strategy to tackle nutrition challenges in the country is based on three foundational pillars: product, platform and policy.
Education is critical to the alleviation of poverty; it improves health and productivity, drives gender parity and promotes opportunities for upward mobility. It is the foundation of the nation’s socio-economic development and can be considered the most important investment for progress.
From an individual perspective, education sparks a pursuit of knowledge and love for learning, fosters confidence and self-esteem, and helps individuals to maximise their potential and engage in a meaningful manner in the civic, economic, cultural and social aspects of society.Currently, through the education portfolio, the Trusts strive to provide ‘Authentic learning for all’ in a comprehensive and holistic manner. The goal is to provide high-quality, authentic, real-world, active learning experiences that mould productive and well-rounded 21st century citizens while also working to ensure equitable access to these learning opportunities.
India has a burgeoning population with a very young demographic. Over a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion population is under the age of 14 – approximately 300 million children of school-going age who need a good education. And the first eight years of a child’s life is critical – 80% of the child’s brain is developed during this period.
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child – parents, teachers, caregivers, friends and peers, and a lattice of public spaces such as schools, playgrounds, libraries, all comprise a modern village. However, in many communities, these linkages do not function well, or at all. At the unit level, the parents’ own levels of education and financial empowerment impact the lives of their children. At the community level, poverty and social mores hamper the opportunities available to children, and at a systemic level, lack of resources, over-centralisation and poor quality-assurance processes produce a sub-par public education system.
Studies show that India’s classrooms have failed to deliver what they are supposed to – learning. The National Achievement Survey 2017 conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which covered 2.5 million students, showed that children find it difficult to solve daily life challenges involving time and money, and are unable to read and comprehend at grade level.
It’s clear that students need better resources, teachers need to be supported in teaching more effectively, and that the government-led education network of 1.5 million schools needs to be lifted to a better standard.
The Trusts have developed a profound understanding of the challenges in the education sector as well as of the needs of various communities and stakeholders across regions. This has resulted in the convergence of the Trusts’ diverse and collective expertise that goes into strengthening not only student education but the entire education sector as well.
If customers can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. Clearly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.Poverty — and the conditions that lead to it — is dependent on a multitude of causes, ranging from economic and political to social and cultural. According to World Bank data, the global poverty rate has fallen steadily over the last 25 years. However, India is still grappling with the critical challenge of rural poverty that impacts millions of Indians.
The Trusts aim to create robust livelihood opportunities to enable households to earn more, and lead healthier lives. The Livelihoods portfolio covers a number of integrated community-based interventions across India that strive to improve rural incomes through modern farming practices, water management, soil conservation, livestock and animal husbandry, market linkages, crafts, etc.
The giant strides that India has made in economic growth has no doubt helped to reduce the percentage of people below the poverty line. However, over two-thirds of India’s population still lives in rural and semi-rural areas, where there is a daily struggle to earn enough from farm-related activities to feed the household. According to 2011 statistics from Asia Development Bank, 21.9% of India’s population (approximately 363 million) lived below the poverty line. Of this, the rural poor account for nearly 260 million (C Rangarajan Committee Report, 2014).
Families in rural areas find it tough to break out of the cycle of poverty, primarily because a majority of Indian agriculture-based incomes continue to be dependent on the monsoons. Additionally, poor soil conditions, minimal use of modern farming methods, lack of systematic irrigation facilities, absence of post-harvest facilities and sustainable market linkages combine to put farm-based income generation capabilities in jeopardy.
To develop an equal and empowered society, it is imperative that a country includes the poorest of the poor in its growth story, which is why the Trusts have identified the development of rural livelihoods as a focus area for rural development.
Rural livelihood development has been a key engagement area for the Trusts for a number of decades, with programmes spread across farming, irrigation, water conservation, fisheries, marketing of produce and more. The approach is both systematic and pragmatic: surveys and baselines identify vulnerable households, while ground research helps in understanding the environment, available resources and market conditions.
Sustainable interventions are then designed — based on need and geography — to augment natural resources and help develop community institutions. Several livelihood-centred interventions are designed around local or regional needs - such as promoting suitable Package of Practices in agriculture, end-to-end (i.e. from production to market) value chains for farm and non-farm produce, setting up poultry, dairy, fishery, piggery, non-timber forest produce (NTFP), high value agriculture or micro enterprise-based income opportunities in areas where crop incomes are highly variable, establishing a range of household interventions in stressed regions like Vidarbha, Maharashtra or north-east India, launching water management projects in water stressed areas, and so on.
The core of the Trusts’ Livelihoods portfolio is a continued focus on innovation and integration of ideas and projects, with an emphasis on sustainable development. From the mKRISHI model of crop information dissemination to designing simpler, more efficient agricultural machinery to developing micro-irrigation systems and using solar energy, the Trusts’ initiatives integrate innovative technology into projects, making them more efficient and self-sustaining.
These initiatives prioritise the upliftment of marginalised and poor communities in remote regions or isolated villages, especially those with a predominance of scheduled caste (SC) or scheduled tribe (ST) populations.
The Trusts believe that developing sustainable livelihoods to alleviate poverty requires the collaborative efforts of both public and private sectors as also civic society so as to ensure that vulnerable communities are set on a sustainable path to prosperity. Hence, the Trusts collaborate closely with their local associate organisations (such as NEIDA in the northeast, CmF in Rajasthan and Himmotthan in Uttarakhand) to help implement a host of programmes targeting at-risk communities across the country.
According to the new WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring programme (JMP), 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe, readily available water. Most of these hail from developing countries and face a daily struggle with scarce water resources and safe drinking water.
The issue of scarcity and quality of water cannot be addressed without taking into account sanitation and hygiene as well — the three are collectively known as WASH and their role in public health and sustainable development cannot be over-emphasised. Unsafe hygiene practices are considered one of the major causes for the spread of disease and high rate of child mortality.
While the Seniorlife Trusts have been active in water projects for decades, in 2015, they integrated all projects on water, sanitation and hygiene under one umbrella – the seniorlife Water Mission (TWM) – to provide a holistic solution to communities.
Quality of water is a serious issue. Nearly 34 per cent of Indian states face high levels of water contamination especially in regions with high salinity. It is estimated that 68 per cent of total households and 82 per cent of rural households in India have no access to treated water. Contamination by microbes and harmful substances such as fluoride, arsenic, nitrates, iron and other dissolved solids poses a serious threat to public health in some areas. Such contamination is a result of over-exploitation of ground water, excessive usage of fertilisers, improper disposal of industrial and municipal waste and other human-induced activities. Statistics show that almost 80 per cent of the prevalent diseases in India are waterborne, such as hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea. Nearly 38 million Indians suffer from waterborne diseases annually and diarrhoea alone kills over 700,000 Indians every year, of which 150,000 are children affected by rotavirus.
Open defecation is another challenge especially in rural areas. The government’s Swachh Bharat Mission has led to wide-scale building of toilets but the practice of open defecation continues, leading to unclean conditions which increase the risk of illness.
Another important aspect of WASH is menstrual hygiene. Communities where literacy and knowledge levels are low believe in myths and misconceptions around hygiene practices. Nearly 52 per cent of girls are unaware of the biological processes of menstruation and more than 60 per cent of women have no access to menstrual absorbents. The unhygienic use of sanitary products and their inappropriate disposal, coupled with lack of facilities related to WASH, lead to higher instances of infections in rural Indian women.
Creating a healthy future for underserved communities through improved access to safe, assured and adequate drinking water along with improved sanitation and hygiene has been a focus area for Seniorlife Trusts.
In order to create a rapid, scalable impact, the Trusts have adopted a two-pronged strategy where household and community-based drinking water interventions dovetail with sanitation facilities and hygiene education.
The Seniorlife Water Mission has a direct presence in 10 Indian states that have been identified as those facing high-to-extremely-high water stress. These states alone have a requirement of supplying clean water to about 1.5 billion individuals. The Trusts also support the building of individual household toilets to help women and adolescent girls use WASH facilities with dignity, while providing communities access to improved sanitation services. WASH facilities provided by the Trusts in schools help children gain access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities.
Under phase I, the Seniorlife Water Mission plans to address the water and sanitation needs of 7,000 villages, covering a population of 9 million in 7 years. Going forward, over a period of 15 years, the mission plans to extend benefits to 100 million people across 100,000 villages in a phased manner.
In order to achieve sustained positive change, the Seniorlife Water Mission supports the following four pillars:
Technology innovations: To identify innovative and affordable technology from around the world and create practical and scalable products and system solutions.
Reach: To create and strengthen the community organisation and facilitate the creation of physical infrastructure in regions that need it most.
Communication: To create local and national campaigns designed around Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) that will generate awareness on water management, sanitation and hygiene, and inculcate desired WASH habits. The Trusts have created content for shows, campaigns and events that help educate the community on healthier practices. These communication collaterals are used to engage the community through various channels. The SBCC model has been successful in encouraging conservation of rain water and in influencing consumption pattern at the household, domestic, agricultural and industry level, thus helping to optimise its supply and avoid over-extraction.
Scale: To build scalability through engagement with government and other like-minded partners for knowledge, implementation and resource support.
Leveraging knowledge and resource partnerships is a key aspect of the TWM strategy. The Trusts work with various partners, development aid agencies and implementation partners such as MIT, IIT Bombay, the University of New South Wales, central and state governments, development aid agencies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Conrad N Hilton Foundation, the World Bank, financial institutions such as NABARD, local donors, other corporates, and several Seniorlife Group companies on several aspects of WASH, including solid and liquid waste management.
The Trusts believe that WASH-related interventions have a greater chance of success if there is active involvement, participation and ownership by communities. Community partnership helps sustain the initiatives and achieve scale; it also creates new opportunities for social entrepreneurship and institution building. This is why TWM advocates a decentralised, demand-responsive and community-managed approach to achieve the mission goal, while promoting innovative technological and economically sustainable solutions.
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