Swasthya Sathis: Primary Healthcare Providers

These are village women selected by the locals during village meetings at one per village/hamlet. 92% of the women are tribal out of which 90% are illiterate or semiliterate. Accessibility to healthcare facilities is an important factor in health promotion and is a big problem in tribal areas. Presence of Swasthya sathis in each village is one step towards solving this problem and empowering the village community in health.

The Swasthya Sathis are trained as a cadre of primary healthcare providers with knowledge and skills in diagnosing and managing the common sicknesses,  identifying the danger signs and early referrals and accompaniments.

The Swasthya Sathis though illiterate are better trained and equipped than ASHAs and work hand in hand with Swasthya Swaraj. A systematic three-year curriculum is followed with frequent evaluations.  All training is residential and carried out in creative ways. Only those who are satisfied with being able to function as a health provider, promoter and communicator are given a Swasthya Sathi kit.

In tribal areas, women deliver in their homes unassisted by anybody, including cutting of the umbilical cord.  The attendant will only take care of the baby. This is a culturally accepted norm as according to their belief system body fluids should not be touched by anyone.  In this situation, advocating institutional delivery is not effective as health facilities are situated far away, transportation facilities are extremely poor. There are no trained birth attendants in the area.

SS has trained 27 senior Swasthya Sathis who are well motivated to function as birth attendants. These women are well trained to assess each pregnancy, assess the risk level, advice correctly; and to conduct home deliveries in hygienic and scientific ways in low-risk pregnancies. 11 of them are doing wonderful work in the villages, silently helping many women in their moments of distress and saving lives.

In the pipeline:

  • Empowering Swasthya Sathis to be influential people in their villages so as to gain the trust and participation of the tribal community
  • Continuing ongoing training of old Swasthya Sathis with the newly inducted ones to consolidate gains and knowledge
  • Promotion of Swasthya Sathis to be group trainers as well as interlocutors with government functionaries like Anganwadiworkers , ASHAs and ANMs
  • Train 100 motivated women as Trained Birth Attendants in remote villages