Population Services International has launched Saadhan, which aims to provide low-income people with information about a range of products and services related to reproductive and child health
For those fed-up with health services that don't work, there is some good news. Population Services International (PSI), a non-profit, social marketing organisation, has just launched Saadhan, a new approach to integrate family health issues in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan.
Saadhan (a Hindi word 'means and methods') is conceived as a means to an end. Its logo is a key, and the idea is that people take the key and turn it to enter the world of health. Saadhan aims to provide low-income people with information about a full range of products and services related to reproductive and child health, where they can find these s! ervices, and their benefits. Some of these are birth spacing, prevention and management of diarrhoea, improved nutrition, safe motherhood and STD/HIV/AIDS.
How did Saadhan come about? Carol Squire, Director, PSI, says that they realised that family health programmes often failed. This was despite social marketing which, first introduced in India 30 years ago, has been trying to raise awareness and change behaviour. Over the years, there are high levels of awareness, some level of services and products, but little behaviour change, which is evident in the low use of services.
Squire feels some of this has to do with the lack of integration of health services. People also feel alienated from the programmes. Not to mention that there is a lack of credibility in the source of the message (the government). Squire also feels that there is a lack of empowerment, or the ability to exercise choice. ! n
The goal of Saadhan is to facilitate attitudinal change in consumers and healthcare providers, induce participation of users and providers in an organised healthcare system and increase the understanding of reproductive and child health issues.
The Saadhan project works in three stages -- information about available services and products; advocacy or letting people talk about it, getting it into the open; and finally, networking and getting the message out.
Then there is the Saadhan messenger -- a concept of networking marketing and passing the message on. If each of the 200 PSI members talk to three people and they talk to three others, and keep track of these three to ten levels, how many would this be? According to Squire, more than 14 million!
Nationally, the Saadhan project is working with the government's projects at the ground level. PSI plans to work in seven o! ther Indian states.
Whether the Saadhan project works or not, it is something to watch for. If men, women and children in the Rajasthan districts of Alwar, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur and Tonk can take the Saadhan key in their hands, and use it, it just might open the door to a new future in family health.
-- Anita Anand (Women's Feature Service)