What we do is simple. We take delivery of medical treatment to the doorsteps of the poor. 80% of our workers are actually in the field at a community, working at the grassroots level and serving as the backbone of Operation ASHA. In case of disease management, they collect samples and return results in the vicinity of the patient’s’ house after transportation to labs. Most importantly, they are essential to finding new cases. We hire community health providers that are involved in and often from the existing communities, as they understand the needs of the population covered. Some health workers have even been previously treated for TB.
Our model ensures complete adherence to the treatment regimen, which is necessary for diseases that require long term care. For example, in TB, under the DOTS regimen followed across the world, every patient is required to take up to 75 doses under supervision of an observer, over 6 months or more. Because of lack of accessibility and many other issues, patients stop coming for treatment, causing their TB to morph into a deadlier version called multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB is just as infectious as regular TB and almost always fatal.
No patient/ beneficiary is more than 10 minutes from our center/community health worker. Many centers are next to large bus terminals and key exits/entrance to slums. This way, the beneficiaries hardly have to spend any time in commuting to take the medicine/services. In rural areas, our health workers travel from village to village and deliver the services to patients’ doorsteps. Operation ASHA’s model is local, deep, high impact and low cost.
- In urban areas (which are served mostly in India), each center treats between five and 75 patients at any given time. The centers serve a population of between 2,000 and 30,000 within a 1.5 km radius of the center. The average population served by each center is 25,000.
- On average, a center treats 50 patients annually.
- In rural areas, OpASHA uses mobile DOTS, where a provider travels from village to village on a motorcycle/scooter, carrying with him strips of anti-TB drugs and other supplies. The provider gives the medicine to each patient at her house or a mutually convenient place, and observes them swallow the dose. Fifteen percent of centers in India and all centers in Cambodia except one follow this pattern.
- On average, a mobile provider treats 50 patients annually.
In a nutshell, Operation ASHA has developed a local, widespread, high impact and low cost model.