AMONGST tribal communities in Odisha, there are multiple struggles that are brought on by poverty and have disastrous effects on people’s health. To assist and uplift tribal communities, a health NGO named Swasthya Swaraj Society offers hope and health. Founded in 2014 in Bhawanipatna, Swasthya Swaraj Society is a health NGO that is dedicated to realizing the dream of health for the poorest. Their mission extends beyond providing mere healthcare – it encompasses a vision of a just and equitable society, free from the clutches of ill health, illiteracy and poverty.

A model for change

Swasthya Swaraj Society launched the Swasthya Swaraj Comprehensive Community Health Programme, nestled in the tribal-dominated Thuamul Rampur Block of Kalahandi district. It is the epitome of the health NGO’s commitment to improving the health conditions of marginalized communities. Here, amidst the challenges of people in remote tribal areas, Swasthya Swaraj Society has set up a model community health program focusing on health, education and the holistic nature of well-being.

children with face masks sitting on the floor
Image: Swasthya Swaraj Society

Critical challenges

The challenges faced by tribal communities are multifaceted, ranging from poor access to healthcare to the dearth of trained healthcare workers. Swasthya Swaraj Society is a health NGO that steps in where available resources fall short. In tribal communities, many people have poor healthcare access and lack quality healthcare facilities. Swasthya Swaraj Society bridges this gap by establishing health centers and outreach clinics. Trained healthcare workers are scarce in tribal areas, but the health NGO addresses this by training grassroots-level health workers and empowering educated tribal girls as middle-level health workers. 

Tribal and remote areas often struggle to attract doctors and medical professionals. As a health NGO, Swasthya Swaraj Society offers doctors incentives and support through initiatives like the Tribal Health Fellowship for doctors. In such areas, the underdeveloped quality of primary education further exacerbates health disparities. Swasthya Swaraj Society intervenes with programs that promote education in schools, aiming to improve educational outcomes and consequently, health outcomes.

Impactful interventions

Swasthya Swaraj Society’s interventions as a health NGO have yielded tangible results that profoundly impact the lives of tribal communities. Through education and accessible healthcare, Swasthya Swaraj Society has improved health seeking behavior among tribal populations who have embraced healthier lifestyles and proactively seek medical assistance when needed. The health NGO’s efforts have significantly reduced mortality rates across various demographics. Infant mortality rates have dropped from 152/1000 live births to 96, under-five child mortality rates from 304/1000 live births to 116 and maternal mortality rates have seen a drastic decline. Swasthya Swaraj Society’s comprehensive approach to disease control has led to remarkable outcomes. The prevalence of malaria has plummeted from 55% to a mere 3-4% and the detection of tuberculosis rates have improved while cure rates soared to 96%. To support Swasthya Swaraj Society, you can donate here.

a group of NGO workers crossing a stream
Source: Swasthya Swaraj Society

Swasthya Swaraj Society’s vision for a better tomorrow

At the core of Swasthya Swaraj Society’s vision lies the aspiration for a society free from the shackles of ill health, illiteracy and poverty. This compassionate health NGO envisions a world where every individual, regardless of socio-economic status, enjoys the right to health and happiness. Their commitment to empowering the marginalized and promoting equity drives their relentless pursuit of change. 

The health NGO’s programs

Swasthya Swaraj Society’s program TULSI (Toki Upliftment and Empowerment Strategies and Initiatives) targets 1,500 tribal adolescent girls and educates them on reproductive and nutritional health. Furthermore, 1,000 out-of-school girls receive awareness at the village level through peer-led activities. The Diploma in Community Health Practice for Tribal Girls program trains local tribal girls post +2 education in nursing skills and community health over a 2-year residential program. The health NGO covers all expenses including education, boarding and lodging for the course which is affiliated with Centurion University in Bhubaneswar. The patient-centered TB Control Program provides patients with rations and travel allowance and is also linked to the Nikshay Poshan Yojana scheme. 

a group of people in a community health meeting
Source: Swasthya Swaraj Society

Swasthya Swaraj Society’s Malaria Control Program collaborates closely with the District Malaria Control Program and employs both health center-based and community-based strategies. The health NGO targets vulnerable villages every two months for malaria and anemia screening in places where malaria affects young children. The Maternal Child Health and Under-5 Nutrition program delivers affordable healthcare services and promotes health across 100 villages in Thuamul Rampur and Kalahandi Districts, benefiting the Kondh Adivasi community. 

Community empowerment

Swasthya Swaraj Society’s approach as a health NGO is rooted in community empowerment and participation. The organization facilitates grassroots movements for health, empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being. Additionally, the NGO conducts community-based research to understand and address the unique health challenges faced by tribal populations.

All the programs of Swasthya Swaraj Society are not merely service-oriented but educational and empowering. They uphold human rights and draw inspiration from the noble values of tribal culture, fostering a sense of dignity and respect among beneficiaries.

Help tribal communities access healthcare on

In the vast landscape of health disparities, Swasthya Swaraj Society stands as a health NGO that serves as a shining example of compassion, dedication and resilience. Through their unwavering commitment to the most vulnerable people, the NGO has transformed lives and ignited hope for a brighter and healthier future. As the organization continues to tread on this path, their journey serves as a testament to the power of collective action and the indomitable spirit of humanity. To support Swasthya Swaraj Society, you can donate here.

📷: Swasthya Swaraj Society


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