SAJIDA’s Community Wellness Program – Proshanti – uses a comprehensive community-based approach to promote and encourage wellness practices and improve access, coverage and quality of health services available to marginalized communities. This innovative model integrates health care, legal and psychosocial services and financing mechanisms, thereby contributing towards the targets of the Bangladesh Government to achieving SDGs 3, 5, 6, 10, 16 and 17.
Utilizing frontline community wellness workers (called SAJIDA Bondhu), Proshanti creates an effective bridge between marginalized communities and formal healthcare systems, including SAJIDA’s health facilities. SAJIDA’s holistic view of wellness perceives physical, emotional, mental and social health to be interconnected and nurtures this with innovative and effective interventions which are essential improving health care and universal coverage, wellness, quality of life and inclusive development among marginalized communities.
Components of Community Wellness Program
Currently, with a population reach of about 1 million, integrated services are being delivered in urban settings of eight districts including Dhaka through a network of trained Community Wellness Workers (called SAJIDA Bondhu). SAJIDA Bondhus are selected from the same community they are serving and are supervised by Community Organizers. One SAJIDA Bondhu is assigned to serve members of each Microfinance branch. As of June 2016, a total of 172 SAJIDA Bondhus have been engaged by SAJIDA.
SAJIDA Bondhus promote health and wellness through regular courtyard meetings on issues encompassing maternal, newborn and child health; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition; and non-communicable diseases including awareness for breast and cervical cancers, and primary prevention and initial screening of diabetes and hypertension. They also mobilize the communities to realize their health and human rights, offer basic preventive and diagnostic services at the doorsteps of community members and link the community with the Government and SAJIDA’s facilities for services for common health, legal and psychosocial problems. The model is continually customized with new innovations to address emerging health and development challenges in Bangladesh. Some SAJIDA Bondhus are trained as para-counsellors to provide need-based psychosocial counselling support to SAJIDA’s members and beneficiaries. In-house studies have found that SAJIDA Bondhus are well-known to the communities they serve and their wide acceptance has positioned them as reliable friends of the community and the first point of contact for any health, psychosocial and legal service needs.
A similar model has also been implemented in Bakshigonj Upazila of Jamalpur district where Community Wellness Workers are part of SAJIDA’s SAMRIDDHI program. The Community Wellness Workers under this program are called Shasthya Shebikas and are essentially the same as SAJIDA Bondhus. Each Shasthya Shebika has an assigned number of households to raise awareness, create demand of services and provide basic healthcare. In the SAMRIDDHI project, Satellite Clinics are organized and operated by a group of paramedics. Periodic health camps are also organized where program beneficiaries have the opportunity to consult with general and/or specialist doctors in case of health problems.