Creating the Hygiene Culture: Impact of Dettol School Hygiene Program

Creating the Hygiene Culture: Impact of Dettol School Hygiene Program

COVID-19, the most severe public health crisis of our times, amplified our need for hygiene & sanitation. Governments, policy makers, health workers and civil society swiftly ramped up hygiene infrastructure and education in their drive for a disease-free world.

Following this trend Samhita & Collective Good Foundation partnered with Reckitt Benckiser to launched the Dettol School Hygiene Education Programme in the State of Andhra Pradesh in 2015 and extended the programme to Telangana by 2016 and to Tamil Nadu by 2018.

The programme builds knowledge, attitudes, practice and behaviour around hygiene in children by engaging children as collaborators, letting them drive the change. It builds their leadership and critical-thinking skills and enables them to solve hygiene problems in creative, sustainable ways, like solving the problem of access by setting up soap banks, ensuring hygiene through Child Parliaments and more.

In a boost to the programme, the curriculum was translated into several local languages, easing the path to adoption and engagement across South India. In another first, Collective Good Foundation introduced digital learning through government education portals. Andhra Pradesh was the first state to upload digital video episodes on their DISHA portals. These videos are accessible to all schools and teachers at the touch of a button and now reach 2.5 million students across 42,000 schools.

Click below to read the full report on how the Dettol School Hygiene Education Programme is developing a culture of hygiene in India’s children.

How India Inc can craft an effective response to the pandemic

How India Inc can craft an effective response to the pandemic

Corporate India plays a critical and urgent role in mitigating the economic, and health impacts of the pandemic. Industry leaders, public health experts, experienced members of social enterprises and thought leaders such as Nobel laureate Esther Duflo came together for Samhita’s ‘Leaders with a Purpose’ webinar series, to address the need for collaborative partnerships across stakeholders. Read on to find out more about the invaluable role corporate India can play in the arena of promoting behaviour change, providing innovative and technological solutions to secure their own supply chains, microentrepreneurs, hospitals, and rural and distant communities.

Implementing the SDGs for Women’s Health using a Global Approach

Implementing the SDGs for Women’s Health using a Global Approach

“All countries should strive to make accessible, through the primary healthcare system, reproductive health to all individuals of appropriate ages as soon as possible and no later than the year 2015.”

In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) collectively agreed upon achieving the goal of reproductive health for all by 2015. Although universal agendas set the tone for progress in the allied areas, there prevails a significant vacuum between the implementation stages and the practice of engaging with family planning needs. The United Nations has stressed the importance of reallocation and mobilisation of financial resources.

‘Among the 1.9 billion women of reproductive age (15-49 years) living in the world in 2019, 1.1 billion have a need for family planning, that is, they are either current users of contraceptives or have an unmet need for family planning. Of these 1.1 billion women, 842 million use modern methods of contraception and 80 million use traditional methods of contraception.’   Source: Family Planning and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Data Booklet

Healthcare interventions need to recognize the local context, unique to certain cultures. the nature of health facilities, commercial outlets, and existing community-based systems. The WHO also promotes a reproductive health strategy that emphasises on strengthening the existing healthcare services to introduce new interventions in the allied areas.

Women’s participation in community organisations like SHGs and other microfinance programs generates non-financial benefits, improves social capital, reduces inequality, and improves health outcomes in terms of access to maternal services. It establishes a positive correlation in the improvement in availability of SHGs and an improvement in maternal health and wellbeing. In India, several studies have found an association between self-help groups (SHGs), the most prominent model of microfinance delivery and maternal health and well-being[1]. For instance, a project in Maharashtra trained women SHG members as health workers and provided funds for health emergencies with literacy training showed a reduction in infant mortality from 176 to 19 per 1000, 40 to 20 per 1000 birth rates, nearly universal access to antenatal care, safe delivery, and immunisation and decline in malnutrition from 40% to 5%  in two decades after 1970[2]

An integrative approach (both top down and bottom up approaches) towards Sexual and Reproductive Health is critical for the purpose of better health outcomes, education and gender equality. All the 17 goals under SDGs are interconnected and they intend to drive the allocation of the global financial and human resources along with guiding nations’ policy priorities until 2030.

The SDGs must address areas pertaining to SRHR and gender equality explicitly. Without doing so, the progress in such areas will be difficult to measure and to act upon the SDGs. In other words, there are two central challenges the SDGs face with regard to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, i.e. lack of direct attention based on sexual health and lack of focus on context-specific problems in terms of meeting and improving sexual health needs. Specific targets pertaining to Sexual and Reproductive Health are as follows:

SDG 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages  SDG 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Target 3.1:  By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live birthsTarget 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere  
Target 3.7:  By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.Target 5.2: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation  
 Target 5.3: Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

In addition SDG #4, which seeks to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all canprovide children and youth with unbiased, scientifically correct information on all aspects of sexuality. At the same time, it helps them develop the skills to act upon this information. Such education also incorporates concepts of human rights and gender equality. Research shows that programmes sharing certain key characteristics can help in promoting safer SRH practices: abstaining from or delaying the start of sexual relations, reducing the frequency of unprotected sexual activity, reducing the number of sexual partners, and increasing the use of contraceptive options against unintended pregnancy and STIs during sexual intercourse.

Working with men and boys to challenge gender inequalities can also have a positive impact on the health and well-being of women and girls. It is also important to recognize that men and boys also have health vulnerabilities. There is a growing recognition that an improvement in the SRH of boys, an area that has largely been neglected, is crucial for the improvement of that of girls.

SDG# 17 highlights the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships for the Goals to achieve impact at scale. Better access to family planning programs has been estimated to result in almost 40% increase in women’s monthly wages, increasing women’s control and agency over finances and property, and enabling greater long-term savings. This requires engagement with collaborative partnerships at local, national, and international levels. Governments and stakeholders, including corporates, can workwith family planning organisations at national and international levels, and with local NGOs and government health services to ensure long term capacity building to address reproductive and sexual health needs of the community. This is important to address issues of high maternal mortality, poor access to contraception and reproductive health services, and high cervical cancer death rates. For instance, the partnership between USAID and the Indian government, along with private and civil society organisations has strengthened health challenges including maternal and child mortality in the country. The partnership focused on improving the reach, impact, affordability, and quality of healthcare services[3].

In alignment with the WHO, SRH action plan and its three closely interlinked goals, corporates can align their health projects with the global goals and benchmarks by:

  1. Undertaking extensive and intensive awareness programmes for adolescents and youth, enabling informed decision making and preventing and responding to sexual violence by addressing gender inequality and cultural norms from a rights-based perspective.
  2. Build capacities of local health facilities by expanding and strengthening people-centred SRH care services for the vulnerable, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach groups.
  3. Collaborate with governments at multiple levels to exchange learnings and promote people centred laws regarding SRH rights that are capable of addressing the needs of all.

Living up to the commitment to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2030 requires the monitoring of key family planning indicators. Many SRH services, like contraception and abortion care, antenatal and post-natal care, can be provided through primary healthcare centres (PHCs). Thus, integrating SRH with PHCs for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) requires development of strategy and commitment from different stakeholders.

Information on sexual and reproductive health is important to support decision-making to advance initiatives and to develop effective programs addressing health needs. The two new tools – Handbook and Learning by Sharing Portal, released by WHO can be used by funding corporates, policymakers, programme managers, implementers, civil society and research organisations in developing coherent strategies to integrate best practices for making health systems more adaptive[4].

HandbookLearning by sharing portal
A guide for planning and implementing SRH services in health benefit packages, accountability processes and measures. It highlights best practices from different countries can serve as an information resource lesson that can be adapted in different contexts. For instance, a safe abortion service in Ireland, evidence-based solution in addressing mistreatment of women in institutional deliveries in Guinea, etc. are learning lessons for strengthening SRH service delivery.Launched in July,2022, is a SRH-UHC portal for peer learning. The portal is an online repository of qualitative case studies that documents experiences of different stakeholders in integrating SRH in Universal Health Coverage(UHC) reforms. It serves as guide in developing normative tools to address SRH needs of women, adolescents, and other vulnerable communities. It features implementation stories from across the world like changing laws in Kazakhstan, partnerships for progress between governments, NGOs and the private sector in Mexico, Nepal, and Pakistan etc.

Both the tools emphasise on the importance of meaningful participation of the people affected through health policies. However, to achieve universal access to SRH services integral efforts are required from the all the stakeholders including governments and corporates that will help align the FP2030 agenda with the SDGs to provide universal access to family planning and lead to healthy lives, informed decision making and participation of women as equals in the society. 





Empowering Women through gender inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Health & Family Planning projects

Empowering Women through gender inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Health & Family Planning projects

Improving sexual and family health and well-being within communities starts with engaging both females and males. Traditionally, females have been the target beneficiaries for Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) & Family Planning (FP) initiatives. These initiatives complement each other towards population control, curbing the social problem of child marriage, and promoting children’s health and education. However, it is important to refocus SRH and FP initiatives on the health of family life; and that begins with the females and their male counterparts – the operative word being ‘and’.

In India, there has been an imbalance between male and female sterilizations dating back to the 1970’s. The forced sterilization of 6.2 million men at the time of the Emergency and mass protests, deepened stigmatization, and misinformation about vasectomies. The onus of SRH and FP fell on women in India[i], despite vasectomies being safer and less invasive in nature than most FP initiatives targeted at women. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 (2019-21), only 0.3 percent of family planning methods are male sterilizations, whereas 37.9 percent are female sterilizations[ii]. This stark disparity can be seen continuing since NFHS-1 (1992-93) and has only widened[iii], [iv].

Inspiration from global approaches to male engagement can be drawn, to increase the participation of Indian men in the FP ecosystem. Globally, the approach to include males in the dialogue around SRH and FP is by having SRH and FP programmes engage with males as clients, and/or agents of change towards SRH and FP. This means enabling men and boys to have healthy engagement regarding SRH and FP with their female partners, families, and communities, thereby, fostering equitable distribution of roles and responsibilities among males and females in making FP decisions. By doing so, unequal power dynamic and harmful gender norm practices, like delegating family planning as only the female’s/woman’s prerogative, are challenged and can be transformed[v].

International Commitments for Male Engagement in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights:

International commitment to involving men in reproductive health has been affirmed through various international conferences and statements, particularly the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action in 1994[vi] and the Beijing Platform of Action in 1995[vii]. The ICPD Programme of Action calls for the innovative and comprehensive inclusion of men and boys to help achieve gender equality and present men primarily as allies in this endeavour. The Beijing Platform of Action reaffirms this[viii].

Programmes around the world that are engaging with males[ix]

According to a report by ICRW titled “How are Men & Couples Engaged in Family Planning? – Learnings from a Review of Programs,” there have been initiatives around the world since 2001 that have been engaging men in their SRH and FP programmes. These include:

  • PRACHAR (Promoting Change in Reproductive Behaviour in Bihar) in India from 2001 to 2013
  • SASA! (Start, Awareness, Support & Action) in Uganda from 2007 to 2012
  • Male Malawi Motivators in Malawi in the year 2008
  • CHAMPION (Channelling Men’s Positive Involvement in the National HIV/AIDS Response) in Tanzania from 2008 to 2014
  • Smart Couple in Nepal for a duration of 1000 days in 2014
  • Promoting Health – Adjusting the Reproductive Environment (Transform/PHARE) in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Iviore, and Niger from 2014 to 2019
  • Project Ujjwal in India from 2013 to 2016
  • Cyber Rwanda in Rwanda in the year 2016
  • A360 (Adolescent 360) in Nigeria, Ethiopia, & Tanzania from 2016 to 2020

How these programmes have engaged with males[x]

These programmes have engaged with men in three potential areas: as clients, as partners to women in SRH & FP, and as influencers or agents of change.

The programmes provided the men space and support for one-on-one interpersonal communication or small group interaction in the form of:

  • Counselling in person/hotline,
  • Couples/family counselling – specifically with the female partners to encourage joint-decision making,
  • Peer education via community motivators/male community activist, and
  • Community theatre that showcased aspirational family communication around SRH and FP. 

Some programmes employed the use of social media and digital online and mobile phone tools that encouraged participants to:

  • Connect with age-appropriate services,
  • Think about fertility desires,
  • Talk and actively participate in discussions & openly raise concerns with SRH/FP provider or counsellor, and
  • To be confident in sharing about employing or changing family planning methods with family and friends.

A couple of key recommendations by ICRW to consider for including males in SRH and FP Programmes:

  • Develop peer support networks between the participants as well as with community motivators/activists. These networks should be intended to thrive post the end of intervention as participants could continue dialogue on these sensitive issues and have a constant support system to reflect and continue progress towards healthy sexual and reproductive & family planning behaviours such as HIV/STI prevention, contraceptive use, physical violence, domestic chores, and parenting.
  • Being mindful of the need of anonymity and requiring a safe environment free from backlash and negative implications to consume information about safe sex, sexual intimacy, other sensitive family planning topics.  

Other sensitive family planning topics could include sex education, sexuality education, pre-conception risk assessment, infertility, genetic code, anatomy/physiology, psycho-sexual problems, healthy emotional relations & responsibilities, assisted reproductive technologies[xi]. “…engaging men and boys in FP may improve FP outcomes for men, boys, women, and girls, as well as challenge harmful forms of masculinity that prevent men from fully participating in their own RH. Addressing gender dynamics has the potential to influence a host of factors that impact the health and well-being of men and women across the lifespan, including couple communication and decision- making about fertility desires and FP and shared responsibility for their family’s health and well-being.” – USAID[xii]

[i] Kaushik, Ashutosh. (2022, July 11). Man should be equal partners in family planning. Hindustan Times.

[ii] International Institute for Population Sciences. (n.d.). The national family health survey 5: 2019-2021. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

[iii]  International Institute for Population Sciences. (n.d.). The national family health survey 4 (nfhs-4): 2015-2016. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

[iv] International Institute for Population Sciences. (n.d.). Key indicator for India from nfhs-3: 2005-2006. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

[v] (1995). Beijing declaration and platform for action.

[vi] United Nations Population Fund. (2014). Programme action of the international conference on population development.

[vii] (1995). Beijing declaration and platform for action.

[viii] United Nations Population Fund. (2014). Programme action of the international conference on population development.

[ix] Sahay, A., Joseph, J., Prashad, V.P., Yadav, K., Jha, S., Vachhar, K., Seth, K. (2021). How are men and couples engaged in family planning? Learnings from a review of programs. International Center for Research on Women.

[x] -Ibid.

[xi] Wikipedia. (2022, November 19). Family planning.

[xii] Office of Population and Reproductive Health, Bureau for Global Health. (2018). Essential considerations for engaging men and boys for improved family planning outcomes. USAID.

Inclusive Health of Women: Building a case for corporate engagement with Sexual and Reproductive Health

Inclusive Health of Women: Building a case for corporate engagement with Sexual and Reproductive Health

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the planning capacity, efficiency, effectiveness, and preparedness of the global public health systems. With increased socio-economic insecurities in low and middle-income countries, progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was stalled. The United Nations has forecasted a $2.5 trillion annual financial deficit to fulfil the SDGs, which has been compounded by the pandemic. Given that we are in an era of transnational governance, where companies, civil society, international organisations, and governments play interconnected roles in standard-setting, supervision, and enforcement of welfare policies and programs it is the responsibility of all the stakeholders in the health ecosystem, including the private sector, to collaborate and strategize how best we can do our part if we are to make progress on our shared goals and targets. This view is reflected in Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals) of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aims “to mobilise, redirect and unlock the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources”.

In 2013, India became the first country in the world to make Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandatory for eligible corporations in India. In doing so, it acknowledged industry as a key change agent and recognized the critical need for utilizing the skills and resources of the corporate sector. Through 2014-2021 CSR spending has been a crucial enabler of development services. Education and health were the highest recipients of support, these being the basic needs of most India’s underserved populations.

The COVID 19 pandemic however reshaped the CSR agendas in India. The pandemic set in motion an interesting trend – while there was a greater overall focus on health for all, women’s health was subordinated due to the immediacy and urgency of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Source: CRISIL CSR Yearbook 2021

One of the most severely affected areas of health, during the pandemic was and continues to be in the domain of Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Family Planning. For instance, access to contraception and reproductive healthcare has been greatly hampered while several countries were under a state of lockdown, due to very low mobility of people and services. The lockdown also had a disproportionately negative impact on women, due to its gendered manifestations. As per the UNFPA report, in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic prevented 12 million women from accessing contraceptives, leading to 1.4 million unwanted pregnancies. In addition, COVID-19 related school closures and economic poverty have led to more sexual abuse, early child marriages and early pregnancies.

While India with its oldest family planning programme in the world has made progress, several gaps remain. Therefore womens’ health must be located in an intersectional analytical framework, which acknowledges women’s different experiences and identities. For instance, women, transgender and gender non-binary folks who are subjected to racism, ableism, and other forms of marginalization, discrimination, gender-based violence, sexual abuse and socio-economic exploitation have been exposed to such instances at a greater intensity, which has been further aggravated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, globalisation has considerably influenced the nature of relationship and shared responsibilities present between business and society whilst the gender composition of such workplaces has witnessed a significant shift. Women currently make up a significant proportion, if not the majority, of the workforce in several industries. Therefore, there is a need to adopt standards and practices, in alignment with the changing gender composition in the workplace.  These changes necessitate inclusive Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and other industry initiatives can help attain SDGs 3 (healthy lives and well-being for everyone) and 5 (gender equality and empowerment).

Sexual and reproductive health, and family planning is a cross-sectoral investment which impacts all the 17 goals of the SDGs, directly or indirectly. A collaborative and alliance-based approach can prove to be fruitful when the key stakeholders invest directly in fields such as education, reducing child marriages, sexual and reproductive health, and family planning, using an intersectional lens, as these sectors have a multiplier impact resulting in greater economic and social returns.

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning is an opportunity for India Inc. to ensure systems change and make a lasting difference at the grassroots. Some potential areas of engagement are offered below,

  • The National Family Health Survey 5 reported several gains for women’s health in India. However, some gaps remain. The need for family planning has declined among married women (15-49 years) across all states and Union territories except Meghalaya. This unmet need can be key to improving the maternal mortality record of India as well as to ensure child health. Further, according to the latest National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2021) only 9.5% men used condoms but 37.9% of women underwent sterilisation. While the fertility rates have reduced in India, access to contraceptives and modern family planning methods remain patchy and were mostly virtual in the Covid 19 phase. It is key to a variety of development goals and is an opportunity for corporations to diversify their CSR agenda through comprehensive programmes on women’s health and engage with men as partners in change.
  • ESG provides a sustainable and long-term strategy to leverage opportunities and invest in behavioural change among the large number of youth employees across the supply chain. In addition, engagement with ESG ensures competitive advantage for both donors and recipients. The mandatory reporting format of Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI)’s Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) requires corporates to report on 9 different sustainability parameters. The immediately relevant principles for the SRH and (Family Planning) FP sector include:
    • PRINCIPLE 3 Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains
    • PRINCIPLE 5 Businesses should respect and promote human rights
    • PRINCIPLE 8 Businesses should promote inclusive growth and equitable development
  • Adopting an alliance model presents an opportunity to bring together resources and knowledge of different stakeholders.  India’s Condom Alliance established by SHOPS Plus in 2019 and Samhita’s REVIVE Women@Work coalition may be considered as an innovative model that is actively engaging with multiple stakeholders with a focused agenda and messaging that resonates with all stakeholders. The Condom Alliance, is a collaboration of market leaders such as DKT India, HLL Lifecare Limited, Janani, Population Health Services India (PHSI), PSI India Private Limited, Reckitt Benckiser, Raymond Group, TTK Healthcare Ltd, undertakes campaigns like ‘Break The Wall’, ‘The Birds & Bees Talk’ and ‘ConSenSuality’ aimed to remove the mindset barriers while delivering adequate and effective sexual education to Indian youth. The REVIVE Women@Work a $15 million blended finance platform, supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), Omidyar Network India, British High Commission New Delhi and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) continues to support the revival, resilience and growth of India’s informal economy.

As a way forward, Samhita-Population Foundation of India proposes the Stakeholder Alliance Creation for Collaborative Impact (SACCI), a multi-stakeholder alliance of policy makers and practitioners, private sector, civil society organizations, and institutional funders in furthering the significance of autonomy, freedom and choice for women and young girls, whilst ensuring better, affordable, and quality healthcare services for the citizens through various milestone policies.

What Will It Take For the Covid-19 Vaccine To Succeed?

What Will It Take For the Covid-19 Vaccine To Succeed?

We need adaptable and accessible communication strategies to address vaccine hesitancy and vaccine indifference in the most vulnerable sections of our society.

While the  COVID-19 virus has touched every corner of the globe, its impact on the ground has been far from uniform. In developing countries, where over 1 billion people live in slums, factors such as population density and poverty prohibit pandemic-safe behaviours like physical distancing and work-from-home.

In developing countries, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, as it has reversed decades of progress in poverty eradication and food security. In India, this is reflected by the 230 million people who have been pushed into extreme poverty since the onset of the pandemic. 

While several pandemic-related challenges, like flattening the curve, have been more difficult in developing nations due to factors like weaker, less resilient infrastructure and healthcare systems, there is one issue that developing and developed nations alike are struggling to overcome: crossing the threshold to achieve complete immunisation against the virus.

While each country faces its own unique set of challenges in procuring and administering COVID-19 vaccines, an overarching hurdle is the need to combat vaccine hesitancy.

The coronavirus has triggered two parallel pandemics: a virus spreading across the globe and an info-demic, spreading across mass media. From innocently misleading to intentionally deceiving, misinformation and disinformation about vaccines are rampant.

India is no exception to this phenomenon. Even though India has seen great successes in the past with nationwide vaccination campaigns to eradicate polio and measles, the rapid spread of unchecked information due to the advent of digital media, has increasingly propagated false information, threatening public health. 

At the root of vaccine-related misinformation lies not only mistrust and fear, but also legitimate questions and doubts. Vaccines are efficient public health tools to reduce disease burden, yet people continue to be  “vaccine hesitant”. Another barrier to vaccine uptake is “vaccine indifference” — where people, dealing with the compounded effects of the pandemic on their livelihood, education, and quality of life, don’t rank getting vaccinated high in their list of priorities. 

Crafting Communication

We need tailored communication strategies to address the different barriers to vaccine uptake in India. Studies have shown that simply correcting myths about vaccines not only fails to improve intention to vaccinate, but also may backfire and decrease intention to vaccinate. 

By understanding the motivation behind the hesitancy, we can create communication approaches that speak to that motivation, match the reality of the receiver and do more than simply replacing rumors with ‘facts’. We need to ensure that there are accessible and adaptable communication channels which allow communities to ask questions and receive information about the vaccine and the vaccination process. The effectiveness of this process requires patience, resources and people. 

Samhita’s response to the vaccine uptake challenges has been to focus on information communication in tandem with increased accessibility. Evidence-based educational and training materials from field practitioners, medical and public health agencies, and  clinicians are made available to NGOs and organizations working on the ground. For example, in the district of Satara, Samhita has helped build awareness and conduct surveillance surveys to understand and record changes in COVID appropriate behaviour, vaccine hesitancy, and information gaps about home-based COVID care, among frontline health workers, ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, etc.

Leaving No One Behind

Immunisation is one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but a large portion of the world’s population are still not benefiting from it because they cannot easily access and avail the vaccines. Ensuring public health is the first step to building just and sustainable societies and economies — in a pandemic, vaccines are a highly cost-effective way to do that.

To help vaccinate daily wage workers and marginalised communities who are likely to get left out of the current vaccination program, Samhita has designed the following interventions to navigate their COVID related challenges and doubts:

  • Facilitation and administration of the vaccine in large proportions. With the  collaborative support of private organisations, large cohorts could be covered in a short span of time.
  • Identification, registration and mobilisation of beneficiaries at scale.
  • Inoculation process, post inoculation monitoring; providing a robust technology platform to manage the programme and monitor the vaccinations.
  • Community-wide immunisation drives to inoculate at-risk vulnerable communities who have either very little or no awareness about the vaccination programme.
  • Mobile vaccination through mobile vans for reaching out to communities in rural and tribal areas. 

Through these interventions, one of the most prominent transformations observed was significantly higher confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. The programme has seen entire communities go from `the vaccine shot will kill us’ and `women who get vaccinated become infertile’ to ‘the vaccine has helped us re-gain our livelihoods’. Such was the case in the village of Rangaon in Madhya Pradesh, where in the initial phases, only 10% of the population had been inoculated. After continuous efforts, the village has managed to reach 98% vaccination rates.  Samhita is working to replicate this success rate in underserved communities across the country. 

Samhita aims to administer 20,00,000 vaccines across India with 4,50,000 already administered within 6 months. This is made possible through the support of our funding partners: Global India Fund, Bank of America, Tata Motor Finance, Angel One, Petrofac, Ivanti, Legrand, Wipro, General Electric, and Larsen & Toubro Infotech. Samhita also acknowledges the efforts of our implementing partners who are on the ground serving at-risk communities: VaccineOnWheels, SEWA, Transform Rural India Foundation, Ambuja Cement Foundation, LabourNet, Edustan Pvt Ltd, Nimbus Consulting Pvt Ltd, Birangana Mahila producer company Ltd, B. Barefoot Enterprises Pvt Ltd, and Doctors for you.

Oxygen for India: SBI Foundation and Samhita-CGF provide oxygen concentrators in critical districts

Oxygen for India: SBI Foundation and Samhita-CGF provide oxygen concentrators in critical districts

Samhita and CGF collaborate with SBI Foundation’s Project Breath Free to provide oxygen concentrators and other equipment to hospitals in Maharashtra, Nagaland and Manipur.

During the second wave of COVID-19, Maharashtra contributed to almost 24% of the cases in India. Other states such as Nagaland and Manipur, with weak healthcare systems, also saw a large number of cases. During this time, states across India faced a severe shortage of oxygen, one of the critical provisions that is needed to support treatment and recovery of affected patients. 

In response to this crisis, SBI Foundation launched Project Breathe India – an initiative to deploy medical equipment including oxygen concentrators and help government run and charitable hospitals meet their oxygen requirements. 

Through Project Breathe India, SBI Foundation, collaborated with Samhita and Collective Good Foundation (CGF) to deploy the equipment in districts of Maharashtra, Nagaland and Manipur. 

Samhita and CGF collaborate with companies, foundations, bilaterals and multilaterals, and social organisations to design and implement impactful social sector initiatives specialise in designing and implementing large-scale development sector projects. This partnership with SBI Foundation contributed to Samhita and CGF’s consistent and multi-stakeholder response to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis. 

In Maharashtra, SBI Foundation, Samhita and Collective Good Foundation supported two districts – Buldhana and Chandrapur. In Buldhana, in collaboration with Hunger Collective, Mahapeconet, and Rise Infinity Foundation, Samhita and CGF facilitated the supply of 35 Oxygen Concentrators to five hospitals. 15 Oxygen Concentrators were provided in Chandrapur.

Samhita and CGF also collaborated with Safe Pro Fire Services to distribute 100 oxygen cylinders and 100 flow meter devices to hospitals in Nagaland and Manipur.

Future of Pharmacies: Creating a Better Normal for Community Health

Future of Pharmacies: Creating a Better Normal for Community Health

Pharmacies lie at the intersection of the healthcare ecosystem and the small enterprise community, both of which have come under unimaginable strain since March 2020.

Samhita, Cipla and NIIF have collaborated to tap into the enormous potential of pharmacists as a key driver of community healthcare in the country.
As a first step, Samhita and Cipla surveyed 1,141 pharmacies, spanning towns and cities across all tiers of India to understand the challenges and underlying needs of pharmacists, and the support they require to facilitate better community health. The study was shaped by the insights of Nachiket Mor, PhD.

Based on insights from the report, Samhita has partnered with National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and DigiHealth to undertake a pilot project with 220 pharmacies in Mumbai and Pune regions.

As part of this pilot:

  1. A BP Monitor and weighing scale would be provided to pharmacists to carry out a screening of walk-in customers and spread awareness on hypertension, including symptoms, treatment and required lifestyle changes 
  2. Customers would be provided access to teleconsultation at the pharmacy (or through the digihealth app to be accessed via the customer’s smartphone) with doctors
  3. Digihealth, through its mobile app and pharmacy network, would nudge communities and individuals to avail testing and follow-up on their conditions

To know more about the report and project or to partner with us, please connect with us at

India Protectors Alliance – Catalytic achievements with the support of HUL, BMGF and RBL Bank

India Protectors Alliance – Catalytic achievements with the support of HUL, BMGF and RBL Bank

Over the past two years, we have experienced a unique and unprecedented situation due to the COVID -19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns. The multiplicity nature of COVID-19 needed an all-hands-on approach that saw corporates, philanthropists, civil societies, and individuals come together to support immediate relief efforts and save lives.

Corporate India and non-profit organisations’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the sector at its best to create a better normal, such as The India Protectors’ Alliance (IPA). The IPA was founded in early 2020 with the support of Hindustan Unilever, RBL Bank and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to protect the most vulnerable and at-risk communities. Through this INR 92 Crores Alliance and the collaboration of 59 funders and 52 implementation partners, we have impacted over 5.3 million beneficiaries across underserved communities, vulnerable populations, and frontline Covid warriors such as healthcare and sanitation workers.

IPA’s Approach: what we did & how we did it

IPA was constituted to equip workers in the healthcare and sanitation sectors to pursue their livelihoods safely by protecting them from COVID-19.

Initially, IPA helped fulfil immediate and critical needs like PPE kits and masks for the frontline health and sanitation workers. However, as the body of knowledge about COVID-19 and its management evolved, IPA too evolved to incorporate other interventions, especially during the second wave of the pandemic. We began working on training and capacity building programmes, providing

Key principles followed:

Our Achievements

Total Beneficiaries : 5.3 Million

A) Healthcare Interventions

Strengthening the COVID-19 vaccination drive: We have inoculated over 3.02 million citizens in high-risk and remote areas across 99 districts in 19+ states through our COVID-19 vaccination drives.

Enabling access to critical care equipment & protective gear: Protective gears were supplied to frontline healthcare workers and police officers. Key medical equipment such as ECG machines and maternal monitors were also supplied for regular patients. 30 implementation partners helped supply this equipment across the country, thus helping us reach over 0.35 million people.

Addressing the medical oxygen crisis: In partnership with nine implementation partners, IPA procured and distributed 950 oxygen concentrators and set up four 500 LPM oxygen plants across the country. This helped impact over 0.3 million hospital patients across the country.

Training on COVID and non-COVID skills & knowledge: Through capacity building of healthcare workers and community awareness programs, we impacted nearly 0.13 million lives.

B) Sanitation Interventions

Strengthening community sanitation : Safe sanitation interventions were initiated across Maharashtra to build and improve access to sanitation infrastructures in schools and urban slum communities. Interventions were also planned for women working in informal workplaces. We impacted over 1.42 million lives.

Empowering sanitation workers: With focused sanitation safety, short-term relief and skilling, and entrepreneurial livelihood programs, the IPA has built the long-term resilience of more than 0.082 million sanitation workers.

Key Learnings & Takeaways

1. Collaboration across 59 funders and 52 implementation and knowledge partners quickly proved the potential of a collective impact that can be envisioned for any prospective project.

2. These learnings further underlined the need of building medium to long term infrastructural and training solutions to strengthen the health systems of India.

3. The importance of agility within organisations to take swift strategic decisions and act on them, especially during a crisis, plays a crucial role in effective and timely relief management.

4. Partnerships with the Government are critical and could unlock significant scale-up opportunities.

IPA’s Response to India’s second wave of COVID-19 

IPA Supporting Public Institutions

#PehnoSahi – A corporate mask wearing initiative

Additionally, the Alliance collectively championed mask usage through an online campaign called #Pehnosahi. The campaign was shared by several industry leaders and Alliance members to urge their employees and networks to wear masks correctly for a safe back-to-work transition.


“The team at the India Protectors Alliance has impressed us with their national reach – from Maharashtra, to Delhi, to Kolkata – to support our frontline healthcare and sanitation workers during the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to their guidance, our support for critical hospital equipment and PPE kits across these critical locations was executed in a timely, hassle-free manner.”

– Sandeep Batra – Chief Financial Officer, Crompton Greaves

“India Protectors Alliance was extremely helpful and effective in gathering the COVID-19 needs from our stakeholder communities. Its widespread implementation network and total commitment enabled us to expeditiously support the healthcare workers within these communities through the distribution of PPE kits.”

– Sudhanshu Vats – Chief Executive Officer, Essel Propack

Why the health of sanitation workers needs to be our society’s concern?

Why the health of sanitation workers needs to be our society’s concern?

“In a world without sanitation workers, business and daily life would come to a halt”.

It may seem too extreme to state but is nevertheless true. Without sanitation workers, the functioning of our ecosystem will halt as supply chains of products and services are adversely affected.

Samhita believes that it is essential to ensure preventive health care for our sanitation workers to not only ensure the smooth functioning of our society but also enable them to live a life of dignity. Our WASH platform and, more recently, our IPA platform aims to put money where our mouth is.

To know more about our approach, read this article written by Priya Naik, Ragini Menon and Tushar Carhavlo for CNBC-TV18.