SARD’s zeal to work in the field of health since its inception is based on the fact that there is lack of proper infrastructure and adequately skilled health care professionals, especially in rural India. Access to and effectiveness of available services is not satisfactory and comes with serious consequences.
The situation concerning Reproductive and Child Health (RHC) is a severe problem due to awareness deficits. When it comes to immunization, there are still a lot of reservations, misconceptions and hence challenges and gaps that have to be overcome. Knowledge about Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI), Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STI), HIV and AIDS is poor, particularly among women. This results in the obvious: high infection rates, high maternal and high child mortality. Bad conditions regarding drinking water, hygiene and sanitation in both rural and urban areas fuel the problem by causing diarrhoea and other serious diseases. The so caused tragic deaths of young women and children are evitable though.
We at SARD belief that education, our major area of expertise, cannot be separated from health. Education in school, spreading of information (i.e. through Information Education Communication Material, IEC) and campaigning raises awareness on community levels, leads to behaviour change and thus the prevention and reduction of health problems and its substantial risk to families and society in general. In this process it is essential for interventions related to health to build capacities of local stakeholders and health care providers like private medical practitioners, local traditional birth attendants, depot holders and schoolteachers through demonstrations, training, group formations and expert consultations. Another aim is to improve the coordination between them. Otherwise, the community will stay dependent on external aid. Projects that do not include capacity building of communities harm them as much as they help them. For this reason, SARD’s objective in the framework of its health related projects is to support the stakeholders in becoming completely self-reliant in mobilising health resources and providing respective services in a more efficient manner. Besides, engaging in public policy and advocacy is necessary to mobilise already existing resources and facilitate sustainability through convergence with governmental authorities, governmental health care systems and other local NGOs. Communication, publication and media are instrumentalised for the dissemination of best practices and information and for the replication and mainstreaming of successful models.
To some extent, SARD offers actual care and support as well, for example within rehabilitation measures, emergency treatment, health camps, eye check ups, ortho care, dental care etc. These activities are often part of holistic development projects implemented with the support of our corporate partners. Learn more about our CSR approach.
Past and present, SARD put a focus on the following 4 patches: Reproductive & Child Health and Family Planning including the fight against HIV/AIDS, Health in respect to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Rehabilitation of landmine victims and Tuberculosis patients as well as Disaster Risk Management and School Safety.
SARD’s 4 focuses in the field of health, past and present
1) Reproductive & Child Health and Family Planning
SARD’s main focus concerning health is Reproductive and Child Health as its history and current projects show. Our work in this field includes HIV and AIDS as well as RTI/STI prevention, control, counselling for patients and their dependants as well as raising its profile through sensitisation and advocacy. The target groups or considered high-risk groups are especially out-of-school youths in rural areas, commercial sex workers, industrial workers and migrant workers. To reach out to this groups, SARD’s activities ranges from workplace interventions including sensitization of senior managements and training of peer educators to organising health melas and awareness campaigns in urban slums. Learn more about SARD’s major projects tackling HIV/AIDS.
SARD has always been deeply committed to the welfare, empowerment and thus equity of women. That mirrors in our efforts to improve the reproductive health and nutritional status of adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers as well as their children. Ante and Post Natal Care for both mothers and their offspring, SARD’s most important beneficiaries, are reducing maternal and infant mortality. Measures to increase child survival rates include routine immunisation. SARD provides key support in the mobilization of hard-to-reach children and families residing in underserved communities and ensures that all eligible children are immunized, for example against the polio virus, as well as the utilisation of other services. In addition to these interventions, SARD is enhancing the availability and utilisation of Family Planning services, the awareness about and the acceptance of them among community members. SARD itself has experience in offering counselling and providing information on Family Planning as well as the promotion of spacing independently. To simultaneously ensure empowerment, these projects include women and girls, especially those from rural areas, in a participative manner.
2) Health and its relation to Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH)
Water, Hygiene and Sanitation plays a crucial role in the well-being of humans. Open defecation, manual scavenging and contaminated drinking water still constitute substantial risks for India’s public health. Diarrhoeal diseases as a consequence of lack of safe drinking water and clean toilets are a huge threat, especially for infants and young children. SARD focuses on changing behaviour, attitudes and practices on personal hygiene and sanitation related issues, especially in resettlement colonies and schools to tackle these risks. Sensitisation campaigns including respective themed melas, community drives, street theatres, quiz and debate competitions, distribution of IEC material, demonstrations of various techniques like proper hand washing and similar school events are the means to create an understanding and disseminate the key messages. Concurrently, coordination and networking with government agencies such as the departments of Health, Education, Women and Child Development as well as civic bodies ensures sustainability. This also applies for the capacity building of stakeholders, especially teachers and school administrators. It is their responsibility to take the initiative, promote hygienic and thus healthy behaviours among their students. Together with its partners, SARD supports this process since WASH components in school are an important factor for School Safety (see below.)
Another focus of SARD’s health interventions is providing comprehensive support to differently-abled persons, particularly children and the victims of landmine explosions, as well as Silicosis, Silica-tuberculosis and Tuberculosis patients and their dependants. To this end, SARD’s activities are diverse: from running physical rehabilitation centres and holding artificial limb distribution camps, to helping landmine survivors reintegrate into their communities through vocational training and psychological counselling.
4) Disaster Risk Reduction & School Safety
School Safety is instrumental to identify possible risks existing at the school level and thereby faced by children. SARD builds capacities of School Administrators and Principals, students, teachers and headmasters for comprehensive safety plans and thus to reduce hazard, risk and vulnerability.