In India, a mother dies for every 20 minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth related cause, as per the latest available data. We also do badly in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR), and Under-Five Mortality Rate compared to our neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal whose per-capita income is lower than ours. Mortality rates are even higher if we consider rural India alone. Good hospitals being far away, lack of affordability, and lack of awareness about safety measures are some of the problems that result in deliveries at home, pre-mature births and infections. To tackle such a complex challenge, we need a mechanism that has the ability to work on different fronts like regular monitoring, tackling emergencies like high-risk pregnancies, spreading awareness about hygiene, nutrition, etc. and all of this at a very low cost to the beneficiary because majority victims are low income households. The sheer amount of resources required in terms of money, expertise, reach, material, etc. make it impractical for one organisation to carry out a venture of this magnitude. These multi-dimensional challenges require multi-stake holder approach for optimal use of resources.
MANSI (Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative) by the American India Foundation (AIF) in collaboration with Tata Steel Rural Development Society, SEARCH (Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health), which acts as technical public health partner, and the Government of Jharkhand, which ensures the sustainability and impact is a program that was started in 2009 to tackle the challenge of mother and child mortality. Local female community health workers are trained in low cost, proven, technology driven interventions to regularly monitor the mother and child during and after pregnancy, tackle high-risk pregnancies, and spread awareness. As per the data from AIF, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in Under-Five Child Mortality Rate, 39 per cent decrease in Infant Mortality Rate and 46 per cent decrease in Neo-natal Mortality Rate with close to 1, 72,000 pregnant women served. This is a great example of a successful multi-stake holder partnership. The combination of strengths each partner bought to the table and the longevity of these partnerships have resulted in great outcomes for the communities.
There are several such complex multi-dimensional challenges which India is facing. Many initiatives like MANSI which have multi-stakeholder approach at the core would be required to address these challenges at scale and in a sustainable way. The United Nations acknowledged the importance of such partnerships in achieving human development goals and has recognised ‘Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17)’ as one among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Partnerships between governments, private sector and civil society both within the country and at an international level are crucial to achieve the 17 SDG’s. Partnerships lead to the mobilisation of resources like knowledge, technology and also enable building capacity of people in developing and under-developed countries. Each stakeholder brings with them an area of expertise or a resource and together they strive for achieving a common mission that results in a win-win situation for all the stakeholders involved.
While for many civil-society organisations such partnerships help in achieving their mission by scaling up impact and creating lasting change through quality resources, for the corporate partners social investments spin-off into several benefits like positive outlook on brand, future financial performance, employee satisfaction, sales, etc. The report ‘Business ROI of Social Investments’ by IO Sustainability and ACCP states that when executed well, social investments, including partnerships with NGO’s can deliver up to 6 per cent increase in share price, 20 per cent increase in sales, 13 per cent increase in productivity, 50 per cent decrease in employee turnover, and boost to reputation worth up to 11 per cent of a company’s market cap.
Social impact investors and entrepreneurs have generated financial returns on par with conventional investments while reducing the energy poverty providing energy solutions to
To address complex multi-dimensional problems at scale in a highly populated country like India, ensuring that a large number of people are impacted and that the change is sustainable are crucial. Every organisation has a unique advantage say the reach or technical expertise or policy & clearance or financing which when combined result in stronger solutions and substantial reach. Such collective ownership of the problem and working with a set of common goals will benefit all the stakeholders and result in a greater and lasting impact.
Abhishek Reddy, Dr. Reddy’s Foundation