MUTUAL HEALTH ORGANIZATION
- (Tara Projects Association)
Badarpur used to be a village in older times. With the passage of time, it has developed into a squatter settlement, inhabited by large number of internal migrants. The majority of the inhabitants work in the factories as labourers/workers. Due to the closure of some industries, many of the inhabitants have lost their livelihoods and now have no stable employment. They survive by working in the unorganized sector or doing some petty jobs. Most of the women are home-based workers and are often victims of exploitation, by working for the contractors who pay them meagre wages. In recent times, due to a decline in their work orders, the women are not able to get work even from local contractors.
In view of ever increasing migration of the population from rural to urban areas, the pressure on land in the cities has increased. It has led to the establishment of urban slums (squatter settlements) in cities like Delhi. People living in these slums are living in horrible conditions, without access to basic facilities like sanitation and health. They also do not have access to the public facilities created by the Government. To make matters worse, they lack proper education/knowledge and are mostly unaware of matters concerning their health. This makes them vulnerable and exposed to malpractices and corruption of the existing healthcare providers. As a result, they end up being exploited by the doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers and end up spending a majority of their income on health costs.
The majority of India’s population lives below the poverty line with earnings of less than 0.6 USD/day (in urban areas) and 0.4 USD (in rural areas). As the private sector dominates the healthcare sector in India, the majority living below the poverty line has to depend on the public health infrastructure. This leads to an excessive burden on the existing, insufficient public health facilities and often leads to their collapse. According to a report on healthcare in India by Price Waterhouse Coopers, India needs 74,150 community centres per million people, but it has less than half that number. Over the years, this has led to a huge gap in the existing healthcare setup and health needs of our people. During 2018-19, India spent only 1.5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on its healthcare needs, which is way below the desired goal set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In such a scenario, where most of the private healthcare providers are driven by profits, the poor have been the worst affected. With even health insurance being out of their reach, the poor do not have any option left than to fall into the trap of healthcare providers and greedy moneylenders. This pushes them deeper into the vicious circle of poverty. People are thus being denied their right to access healthcare.
AN ALTERNATIVE – MHO
MHO offers poor people a ray of hope. MHO’s health actions, based on solidarity, self-governance and support, are the only alternatives available. MHO focuses on offering access to consultations with a general practitioner at its health centre and to medication at very low prices. It provides extensive prevention and awareness-raising work on different health aspects throughout the year within the neighbourhood, some out-patient hospital beds for observation, and partnerships developed with hospitals (public and private, of different religious denominations) in order to refer mutual health members, should this be necessary. The project is helping people to come together and support each other in their hour of need. MHO is a not-for-profit organization which offers solidarity. It is a unique initiative providing the Right to Health to those who are otherwise denied this right.
MHO provides ordinary people with some relief. By ‘Mutual’ we mean a system in which the beneficiaries themselves participate, a system which is governed by them so that they feel the responsibility of making it a success. MHO is a completely transparent system in which members with expert guidance take decisions about supporting other members. They themselves lay down the rules and follow them. MHO has, over the years, proved to be a big help in their times of need. It has taught members to behave responsibly and minimise their health costs/risks.