Taming Disability

Taming disability has always been a concern. NGOs such as Impact India Foundation seek to provide easier access to healthcare especially to habitations away from medical facilities

Did you know that roughly 70 million people in India are disabled? This constitutes more than 6% of the country’s population; a whopping 80% of these live in villages. Being poor, they have little or no access to treatment or medical care whatsoever. This is where Impact India Foundation (IIF) steps in. Established in 1983 by the United Nations and launched by the Indian government as an ‘international initiative against avoidable disablement’, IIF acts as a catalyst to bring together the corporate sector, NGOs, professionals and the community. IIF partners with the government in mass health programmes for prevention and cure of disablement. Driven by its slogan—Action Today To Prevent Disability Tomorrow—IIF has three distinctive projects: Lifeline Express (LLE)—the world’s first hospital train, Community Health Initiative (CHI), and Lifeline Express Mobile Clinics (LLEMCs).

IIF is best known for Lifeline Express, also known as the ‘Magic Train of India’. Run in partnership with the Indian Railways, it has medically served more than 700,000 disabled rural poor through 137 projects, restoring sight, movement, hearing and correction of cleft lips with dental and neurological treatment—all completely free of cost.

CHI was set up in 2005 when IIF was invited by the government to undertake a project for holistic health improvement to support the National Rural Health Mission. CHI has achieved remarkable results. For instance, it has succeeded in reducing the number of persons with disabilities by 72% in the tribal areas of Thane district (Maharashtra) with the ‘donated’ skills of hundreds of volunteers who contributed to treating and transporting patients and created information systems and portals to extend its outreach. CHI conducts training sessions for government-appointed ‘Accredited Social Health Activists’ (ASHAs) to identify high-risk ante-natal care (ANC) cases as well as ensure that they get treatment and follow-up care. From April 2011 to March 2012, as many as 1,504 pregnant women completed ante-natal check-ups whilst 516 were motivated to deliver babies in institutions instead of unsupervised home births. CHI’s ‘Baby Wrap’ project uses donated patchwork quilts to prevent neo-natal mortality due to hypothermia. IIF’s close monitoring of ante-natal and post-natal care has helped reduce infant and maternal mortality rates. To reduce anaemia in adolescent girls, CHI does everything from personal counselling, haemoglobin estimation, providing iron & folic acid supplements, de-worming, as well as promotion of kitchen gardens for vegetables.

CHI has been developed as a replicable model for which Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has prepared a manual to share the processes to be followed. Zelma Lazarus, CEO, IIF, says, “Impact’s Community Health Initiative is a unique, far-reaching, sustainable model project easily replicable by all corporates under their CSR programmes.”

Public transportation is scarce and infrequent in many parts of rural India. IIF’s LLEMCs facilitate easier access to healthcare. The vans are equipped with vision and hearing testing equipment and reach out to serve rural communities in partnership with various hospitals in Maharashtra. Five LLEMCs have screened over 200,000 rural poor patients so far, for prevention of disabilities through early detection and treatment of deafness, cataract, squint, glaucoma, vitamin-A deficiency and night blindness.

IIF’s objectives are aligned with the United Nations’ 2015 millennium development goals. IIF expects to scale up operations in areas where prevalence of disability, malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality is high. For this, it seeks contributions that entitle donors to 100% tax deduction under Section 35AC of the Income Tax Act.

Impact India Foundation
Nhava House, 65 Maharshi Karve Road,
Marine Lines, Mumbai 400 002, India
Contact Person: Neelam Kshirsagar
Phone: (91-22) 6633 9605/6633 9606
Mobile: 9820237581,  Fax: 91-22-22010594
Website: www.impactindia.org
Email: [email protected]

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