Nothing causes more anxiety in a family than when a member faces a life-threatening illness. This is true whether one lives in Europe or North America or in the poorest rural communities of India. There, families often turn to village moneylenders to finance treatment of illnesses at the 11th hour. Consequently, nearly 65% of India’s poor are estimated to fall into debt each year paying for serious health problems, leading them to fall even deeper into poverty. Such poverty impact girls and women disproportionately.
In response, the Indian Government recently launched a nationwide health insurance program—referred to as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana or RSBY—to provide low-cost health care to millions of families living below the poverty line. The objective of RSBY is to help very poor families protect their household from major health shocks that involve hospitalization. Eligible families are entitled to receive treatment costing up to the equivalent of $700 a year for a nominal fee of just 60¢. The implementation of this health insurance program is an important step toward improving the health security of India’s 100+ million poor families.
However, those who could benefit most from this health insurance are unaware of the program and its benefits. Equipping families with essential information to understand and enroll in the program is a critical step. That’s where Reach comes in.
Reach has partnered with the David & Lucile Packard Foundation to design and disseminate education across 14 of the poorest states of India to equip very poor families to understand and take advantage of this health insurance program.
In 2010 Reach staff members field-tested this important new education among self-help groups of poor women. Women learned how to enroll themselves and family members and access services under RSBY. Reach has just begun training many local organizations to deliver this education to thousands of self-help groups, empowering hundreds of thousands of very poor women with knowledge for a healthier future.
Since our last report, Reach Global has extended life changing education to an additional 14,167 adolescent girls for a total of 118,751 since launching in India in 2006. It’s clear that momentum is building and others believe, as we do, that investing in adolescent girls and women is smart. We thank you for your belief in our work empowering girls to help break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families and invite you to support our work by making a donation that you feel is personally meaningful via Global Giving or Reach India's website.