Project Lead(s): Anand Lakshman
School-age children in urban India face a variety of health challenges.
Approximately 40% are undernourished, while 15% are overweight/obese, reflecting the dual burden of nutritional challenges this population faces. About one in five children have refractory vision errors, half of which go uncorrected, and one in eight have psycho-social issues.
Compounding these problems is the episodic care-seeking behavior, fueled by the need to pay out-of-pocket for health services delivered by private providers in a fragmented fashion.
The child health venture AddressHealth piloted a novel and scalable, tele-enabled, school-based health centre model in urban Bengaluru, India.
The model aimed to deliver primary and first-contact care, dental treatments; vision services, health education, nutritional advice, psycho-social care and chronic disease interventions to children in low-income schools.
An onsite nurse would be supported by a multidisciplinary team and a technology platform, consisting of a tele-video link and a school-based electronic health record. Each unit would be sustainable with revenues from the school put towards services provided.
During the project period, the model provided coverage to 16,177 children in six schools.
In addition to creating a model for delivery of primary healthcare in schools, which used existing communication technology to address last-mile human resources challenges, an after-hours child specialty clinic was developed.
The project improved the lives of 3,474 children, due to improved health outcomes. Of these, 2,961 children received preventive dental treatments, including fluoride applications, scaling, pit and fissure sealant applications and minor fillings. A total of 293 children with vision defects were sent for further evaluation and fitted for glasses, and 220 children attended group therapy sessions as part of the mental health program.
Based on the pilot at Nightingales English School and experience in the other schools, AddressHealth has formulated a business plan for expansion of these services, to establish 35 such school clinics in the next two years in two cities, Bengaluru and possibly Hyderabad.
The school health program, consisting of the annual school health check, health education, mental health program and stand-alone tele-enabled school health centres (without the after-hours clinic), would reach more than 300 additional schools in these regions.
The project has successfully raised a Series A funding round of $1.5 million USD from social venture fund Gray Matters Capital and the Unitus Seed Fund to execute this plan.