Special Feature

December, 2002

Seeking Diaspora input for a Healthy India

The Indian Social Venture Capital Forum National high-level meet on 'Primary health care innovations in India' was jointly organized by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and Naandi Foundation held on 13th December at Taj Banjara, Hyderabad. Delegates include Corporate and NGO Leaders in Health area, Academicians and Research Scholars to provide multi-sectoral approach for promoting primary health care in India. The major thrust was on how 'Indian Diaspora' can play an important role in promoting primary health care in India.

Of late, the help sought from resourceful Indian Diaspora has been found in every quarter in India. Government, NGOs, Corporate and several communities and groups in India now seeking Indian Diaspora's helping hand. Primary health care is a complex issue. Health of a population is not just confined to hospital and medicine facilities. Much wider domain of socio-economic, political and environment aspect has to be taken into account to promote the health of the population. How can Indian Diaspora play major role in promoting this in India? The seminar provides some interesting insight into the issue.

The important question arises 'is Indian Diaspora interested to participate in India's developmental process?'. Dr. Anji Reddy, the Chairman of Dr. Reddy's Lab was quite optimistic. Several Telugu associations in USA and elsewhere are prepared to give any amount, but they are apprehensive of proper utilization of funds', he said. His emphasis was on accountability and trust building. Suggesting NGOs and organisations who are involved in resource generation, he said that the 'projects should be packaged so that they (NRIs) should find it interesting'. He cautioned that there should be proper management and there is a need of corporate collaboration in mediating Indian Diaspora and health programmes to make health care programmes successful.

He sought the example of a few corporate sectors in primary health care such as L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, established by an NRI, to provide services for the poor free of cost.

Mr. Monoj Kumar, CEO of Naandi Foundation emphasized the importance of Indian Diaspora in primary health care. His focus was mainly on 'enhancing the quality and access of primary health care in rural areas' and 'access to safe drinking water'. He sought the help of Indian Diaspora in these areas. Dr. R. Gopakumar, Assistant Director, Research and NGO Services, CAF India, emphasised the willingness of NRIs for various programmes in India. Health care draws maximum attention from NRIs. He had carried out a research on the possible collaboration of Indian Diaspora in USA and NGOs in India and emphasized the fact that 'There is a lack of trusted facilitating organizations in India who can carry out work with the funds from NRI'. His organization, CAF India, is trying to remove this drawback by validating the NGOs based on their performance.

Dr. Ashok Dayal Chand, Institute of Health Management, Maharastra, expressed his disappointment over the government collaboration, which made many health programmes unsustainable due to bureaucratic procedure. He said that 'all the important innovations in health care are done by NGOs and there is a need for NGOs to collaborate with Indian Diaspora for sustainability. He said Indian Diaspora can help health care in two areas namely, support the 'reform process from state level to grass root level' and the 'innovation process at grass root level'.

Mr. Jagdish R. Hiremath, Member of High Level Committee on Indian Diaspora, empasised that Indian Diaspora always feels to contribute to India and there is a wider scope of collaboration with Indian Diaspora in primary health care.

Prof. Chandrasekhar Bhat, Convenor of the Centre for the Study of Indian Diaspora, highlighted few sociological aspect of Indian Diaspora, which could help Indian NGOs at state or National level to build their strategy to generate resources from them. He emphasized the role of 'regional identity' 'caste and community composition' and 'sentiment towards particular locality' in providing support. He suggested that the local NGOs could network with their own Diaspora community to harvest maximum dividend.

Mathew Cherian, Executive Director of CAF India, had vast experience in resource generation from various sources from India and abroad, also suggested NGOs to link with organization abroad who have similar interest articulated through linguistic, regional and professional associations.

Several innovative ideas cropped up in the process of discussion. The future course of action by NGOs and organizations involved to promote primary health care services has a challenging task in hand. To achieve success we need, what Dr. Anji Reddy said, 'passion and commitment'.

Content provided by Sadananda Sahoo Centre for the Study of Indian Diaspora (CSID) University of Hyderabad

The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.

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