The Healthy Village project is set to receive a rejuvenating new dose with the signing of a three-year memorandum of understanding between the Confederation of Indian Industry and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin to promote healthy growth in the country, especially in the rural areas.
With a target of developing 100 villages this year, work has already begun in Patna district of Bihar, and Rajasthan; Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh are next on the list.
Besides bringing together CII and AAPI, the programme will rely heavily on the India America Council to launch programmes that will help in the meaningful engagement of the diaspora.
Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman, CII's national committee on healthcare, says, "The MoU will enable us to bring in a lot of knowledge transfer from AAPI."
With a strong base of over 42,000 physicians, AAPI president Dr Subramaniam Balasubramaniam has identified five major areas of focus - cancer of the cervix, cancer of the prostrate, heart disease, diabetes and deafness in children - diseases that can easily be prevented.
Giving company to CII and AAPI will be corporates across the country, who have agreed to adopt villages and begin a health drive to make them self-sufficient in healthcare.
Sam Pitroda, chairman, IAC and Knowledge Commission says, "We want to start telemedicine in the rural areas and for that we require broadband. At the moment we need to build 100 networks connecting 5,000 nodes in India."
Pitroda is in talks with telecom service providers like Bharti, Reliance and BSNL for the project. S D Saxena director, finance, BSNL, says, "We will be working on the project since it is for the masses. We already have broadband presence in many rural areas so it will come at a nominal cost for us."
One such example of a project that has witnessed success is that of Dharuhera, Haryana, where CII collaborated with Hero Honda. The company adopted various villages located within the vicinity of its factory at Dharuhera for integrated rural development.
"The corporates are willing to take up the project because their own workers live in these villages. So, nurturing a healthy work force becomes essential for them," explains Trehan.
Other corporates that have been identified and are willing to take up the project as part of their corporate social responsibility include DCM and Bharti.
With this MoU, and with activation of telemedicine, these villages will have access to AAPI's base of doctors and facilitate transfer of knowledge and technology along with the development of emergency medical services.
Moreover, it will encourage interface between doctors in India and Indian doctors in America.