Non-profit organization Health Action by People, women’s empowerment organization Kudumbashree, and the State Bank of India, have partnered to train qualified nurses in Kerala to take blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index readings in people’s homes. Results are sent the following day by courier. The State Bank of India also provides nurses with a loan to purchase a scooter and other necessary medical equipment. The poverty alleviation initiative has enabled wider provision of health services and income generation for the women nurses.

KOCHI: At daybreak, around 40 women in the city set out on their rounds to do medical tests. They conduct routine tests for over 750 persons that are quite cost-effective.
These women are part of the Saantwanam project, a poverty-alleviation as well as health-oriented programme organised jointly by the Health Action by People (Thiruvananthapuram), Kudumbashree, and State Bank of India.

The women visit houses and take instant readings of blood glucose(Rs. 25), blood pressure(Rs. 10), cholesterol(Rs. 60) and body mass index (Rs. 10) of the people who seek their service. Other detailed check-ups are also conducted and the results are sent through courier the next day. The tests are accurate as the results are accepted by all doctors. The tests are also conducted at trade fairs and other public places where they are a big hit, with lots of people pouring in to check their sugar, pressure or cholesterol level.

Kudumbashree members with a science base at their higher secondary school level or those who are qualified as nurses are given a week-long training on handling health-screening equipment. They are also given a subsidised loan of Rs. 1 lakh to buy a two-wheeler and the required medical apparatus.

Deepika Ramachandran, who is employed under the Saantwanam project, said that she makes over Rs. 7,500 a month and even more when she puts up a stall at trade fairs. Vimla Mohan, another Saantwanam worker, said, “People think that the project may not be viable since we charge low rates. But in reality, we do make good money since we get our health screening kits at subsidised rates from the Health Action by People’s office.”

“I conduct check-ups for more than 150 people regularly and each time I set up a stall, it draws a large crowd. Many get to know of our work through word of mouth. Anyhow, the number of people who seek our assistance is on the rise every month,” said a beaming Deepika, visibly proud of her work.

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