For over two decades, Mukti Bosco’s Healing Fields Foundation had been working with poor semi-literate women from rural communities in preventive health education, nutrition, menstrual hygiene and first aid. But she realised that this education would have a lasting impact when digitised and integrated to a technology platform. To increase accountability, the foundation, in 2017, launched a single technology platform for the entire cycle of its training process -creating a plan, assigning resources, capturing the training sessions in real time as well as the metrics associated with them. “No industry has a single technology platform that can do this, more so in the rural areas where Healing Fields operates,” says Bosco.
Bosco leads a preventive health education program reaching over five million families in India. Her NGO is perhaps the only one producing and distributing sanitary napkins through community health entrepreneurs (CHEs). The foundation has commissioned its first fully automated sanitary napkin unit in Jigna in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. The unit produces about 7,200 napkins a day, which the CHEs sell to have an income. “It’s not just about selling sanitary napkins. Our CHEs also educate women and girls on their use and safe disposal,” says Bosco, who is also the secretary general of Healing Fields Foundation.
She concedes that finding dedicated trainers to work in the remote rural areas is a challenge as more lucrative opportunities are available elsewhere. “Standardisation of health content, quality of delivery, and an impact assessment of the interventions remain major concerns,” explains Bosco, who was named an Ashoka Fellow in recognition of her work on an innovative micro-health insurance model.
“It’s simple and powerful, leading to lasting positive change. We have a combination of women, who want to see health changes in their families and communities, and a technology tool that gives them information on how to do it,” says Christopher Murdoch, Asia programmes director, Opportunity International Australia.
Bosco believes the technology platform will be a revolution not only for the development sector, but in education, training and rural livelihoods.