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It is our social responsibility to contribute towards a healthy and progressive India

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SBI Life’s aim is to help individuals realise and unlock their full potential thus leading to poverty alleviation and economic development of the country. Manjula K, EVP, Chief of HR and Management Services, SBI Life in an interaction with Sanjiv Das reveals more on how SBI Life is trying to build a strong and sustainable community

What is SBI Life’s focus for the healthcare sector?
India enjoys a large demographic dividend which by 2050 will allow us to have a far larger workforce than both the US and Europe combined. Most of this workforce will be required by the organised sector and will be supplied from the middle class. To make the most of this time-bound opportunity a lot depends on whether or not we are able to help our employable population reach their full potential both in terms of skill training and health.As things stand, India has one-third of the world’s stunted children making malnutrition the biggest deterrent in our growth story. As a responsible corporate, SBI Life believes that it is our social responsibility to contribute towards a healthy and progressive India. While the Government of India (GoI) has implemented some of the large scale programmes such as National Health Protection Scheme, Ayushman Bharat and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) to tackle the grave issue of malnutrition, SBI Life believes in augmenting these government initiatives to bring about a holistic development of the communities we operate in. This approach helps us to align our focus on strengthening government’s existing and promising projects and avoid unnecessary duplication of national efforts. Ultimately, our aim is to help individuals realise and unlock their full potential thus leading to poverty alleviation and economic development of the country.

Tell us about the healthcare CSR initiatives undertaken by SBI Life?
Under healthcare, primarily, SBI Life is complementing GoI’s ICDS programme through our intervention in villages of Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Rajasthan. The focus here is on maternal and child health during the first 1000-days. We selected MP and Rajasthan as data indicated alarming levels of malnutrition especially among women and children. So far, we have adopted more than 145 villages in these regions covering a population of about 400,000 individuals.
Secondarily, other areas that we are working towards is tackling the increasing burden of treatment cost of cancer among the economically weaker section of the society. We provide medical aid to leprosy affected people, therapeutic support to differently-abled children, medical aid to visually impaired people and have also successfully conducted platelet donation drives.

Which states and who all are going to benefit from this initiative? Did SBI Life tie-up with the state governments?
SBI Life’s CSR interventions are currently spread across 15 states and we place a lot of emphasis on the regions that we choose for our interventions. MP and Rajasthan, for instance, were chosen after referring to government’s reports like the National Family Health Survey-Four and Millennium Development Goals report (MDG 2014-15) that put Dhar district in MP and Baran in Rajasthan among the worst-performing districts on maternal and child nutrition. So we decided to extensively work in these regions. We have started seeing the positive impact of our work and are happy to see a lot of enthusiasm and high participation rate among our beneficiaries. This gives us a confidence that our approach is right and encourages us to replicate our interventions to other relevant regions as well. For these successes and many more in future, we thank our NGO partners who are integral to our on-ground implementation and grassroot collaborations. Our on-ground partners ensure a meaningful liaising with the government bodies depending on the need and nature of the project. For instance, in MP and Rajasthan, our NGO partner has signed MoUs with the state governments. This ensures implementation of relevant projects in making a significant impact at the national level. While we do carry out our CSR work in direct collaboration with our NGO partners, we also wish to work in collaboration with the government through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode in the future, depending upon the need and nature of the project. In our view, PPP is an effective tool for bringing private sector efficiencies in timely delivery of quality public services. We wish to leverage this mode to achieve best results and benefit for the communities where we operate in.

What will this CSR initiative entail in terms of healthcare provision?
Through our interventions, we ensure support to pregnant and lactating mothers in each step of their pregnancy lifecycle till their child turns two. Once we map a village in terms of age, gender, marital status etc., we then regularly engage with current and prospective mothers through an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and community sessions. Our NGO partner ‘Action Against Hunger’ reaches out to the pregnant women through ASHA/ Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM)/ Anganwadi Workers (AWWs). As a first step, we encourage the pregnant women to get a hospital-based pregnancy test for confirmation. She is then counselled to register her pregnancy at the hospital accompanied by our NGO partner’s Community Mobilizer (CM) or an ASHA/AWW. Once a woman is registered, she receives a Mother and Child Health (MCH) card. Pregnancy is a very crucial time and access to right information and facilities is the key to ensure safe birth and healthy maternal and child health. This is why we do not leave any stones unturned to ensure health and safety of mother and her child. We engage with her intensively through monthly basis during which she is counselled on nutrition and healthcare. We work closely with her to ensure that she completes at least four Antenatal Care (ANC) check-ups. Then we ensure regular monitoring for risks such as anaemia, blood pressure, blood sugar and other possible vulnerabilities. She is guided to conduct the ANCs either during Village Health Nutrition Day (VHND) or through a nearby health facility. In every step, she receives full support and guidance from an ASHA or AWW. Her consumption of Iron Folic Acid (IFA), calcium and deworming is also monitored and she is connected to the appropriate resource for a regular supply. The woman is referred to the AWC for Take Home Ration (THR) which is then followed up through an AWW. At the same time, through home visits, group sessions and community activities, she receives counselling on the importance of nutrition during pregnancy. As she enters her seventh month into pregnancy, a session on birth preparedness is conducted with her using the Birth Preparedness and Complication Readiness kit (BPCR kit). Through regular visits and sessions, it is ensured that she knows where the nearest health facility is and what transport is available to her for an institutional delivery. The ASHA supported by NGO CMs helps the woman to regularly visit the health facility for regular check-ups and necessary vaccinations. During her visit to the hospitals, she is counselled on the importance of initiating breastfeeding and the importance of giving the new born her body warmth. Upon returning home after the delivery, a Post-natal Care (PNC) visit at the health facility is facilitated for the woman with the support of an ASHA/AWW. ASHA worker alongside NGO CMs also conducts home-based visits for the new born and the mother and provides counselling on recognising danger signs and consuming IFA tablets. She is also counselled on family planning, importance of taking ample rest at home, breastfeeding and following a nutritious diet for a healthy recovery. We work with her and guide her on good child feeding practices such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and complementary feeding post that. We further work with the mother on diet diversity, good sanitation and hygiene practices, immunisation and various services available through the Anganwadis till the child turns two. This ensures that the child crosses the critical window (conception to the child turning two) with good health, thereby reducing the chances of malnutrition and enabling them to grow, learn and prosper.

What process do you follow when it comes to the implementation and monitoring of CSR activities?
We believe that on-going engagement of the key stakeholders and sustenance of the project is solely dependent on well-planned implementation and thorough monitoring. The three mantras that we follow are: pre-project research, project review in regular intervals with surprise visits and post-implementation follow-up. The pre-project research mainly involves a baseline study. At this stage we facilitate an open and transparent dialogue with the community, government officials and NGO partners to understand the key challenges faced by the people. It is this consensus from all the key stakeholders and our beneficiaries that helps us execute socially relevant interventions and ensures project sustainability in the long run. Once we have identified the key issues and probable interventions we conduct a regular project review and surprise visits. This helps us to effectively monitor project progress and challenges, if any. We work tirelessly with our NGO partners to ensure that desired results are achieved for the beneficiaries. We close the loop by conducting a thorough post-implementation follow-up in the end. This step not only helps us to identify if we have met our project objectives but also guides us in building a concrete strategy for the future. The basic thing to understand here is that since every project is unique, companies need to customise their monitoring tools and templates to effectively monitor the project. Now these are just the basic building blocks that we follow towards creating an impactful, long-term and sustainable project. But we do continue to research for newer methods catering to unique requirements of individual projects supported by us.

How is SBI Life going to benefit from the healthcare CSR initiatives in the long run?
In today’s world, no business can prosper without creating a shared value for its shareholders, customers, employees and society at large. Good news is that more and more companies have understood and accepted this fact.
Among many other socially responsible corporates, SBI Life too understands the value of building a strong and sustainable community. This understanding is reflected in our business philosophy – ‘Protection of Life’. One way to achieve ‘Protection of Life’ of the communities where we operate in is by empowering them to access affordable and quality healthcare. Under healthcare, our focus is on increasing health performance and not just providing services to the people. This means we place positive health outcome and enhanced healthcare delivery as our key evaluation indicators in discussing success and positive outcome. The end benefit for the company is to create meaningful and active engagement within the communities we operate in and contribute towards their holistic development.

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