In the run up to the monsoons, Uplift has planned a series of measures to improve access to quality and affordable healthcare which will help their members cope with increased health risks. Below, Kumar Shailabh, Executive Director Uplift discusses Uplift’s specific plans for the monsoon with ICMIF Country Program Officer Payal Agarwal.
Payal: How is Uplift preparing for the monsoons?
Kumar: We plan to have a three-pronged approach to helping our members cope with monsoon related health problems.
- Prevention through awareness building: Doctors will provide health tips during community clinics on how to avoid falling ill; display information about disease and their symptoms in the community; distribute one page leaflet on how members should take care during monsoons
- Early diagnosis: We will conduct health camps with blood test facilities to diagnose diseases such as malaria, dengue at the onset; calls (10 per day) to members to check on symptoms such as high fever, chills. The Uplift pharmacy is also stocking up specific medicines for monsoon related illnesses and will provide them at discounted rates to their members.
- Access to good quality and affordable hospitals: During the monsoons, there is a huge burden on the public hospitals and often patients do not get the required healthcare. Every year there are numerous instance of lives being lost due to overcrowding in public hospitals, Uplift will use its health intelligence system to guide its members through the helpline to private hospitals which are affordable and provide good quality health care.
Payal: What challenges do you expect to face when implementing your plan?
Kumar: Prevention of disease will be the biggest challenge. Given that most of our members live in overcrowded slums with frequent water logging, the conditions are perfect for the breeding of mosquitoes and pests. Extraneous factors which are beyond our control like lack of sanitation facilities, water logging make preventive measures ineffective.
Our focus will be on early diagnosis to ensure that the minimum number of members fall seriously ill and require hospitalization. Hospitalization is a period of high stress for the family, especially if it is the breadwinner who is ill as it is accompanied by loss of income.
Payal: What do you foresee as the impact of your ‘monsoon plan’?
Kumar: Rains make life very difficult in the slums. An illness in the family further compounds the problems and has an adverse impact on the livelihood of the household.
Our aim is to minimize this adverse impact on livelihoods by early diagnosis and treatment and providing access to affordable, good quality healthcare which is buttressed with health insurance.
We share a symbiotic relationship with our members and ensuring that they stay healthy will keep our claims within estimates in the months ahead.
Photo shows: Monsoon planning - Uplift's Executive Director, Kumar Shailabh in discussion with his team of doctors
Monsoons in Mumbai, India
Mumbai during the monsoon months (June to September) has an average rainfall of 2,258mm every year. July and August are characterized by almost non-stop rain and weeks of no sunshine. It is not uncommon for parts of the city to be waterlogged during periods of persistent heavy rain.
As per a study on the economic impact of climate change on Mumbai, increase in the incidence of malaria, diarrhoea and leptospirosis will result in loss of income due to non-working days and deaths. Thereby, affecting the urban poor the most, as not only do they lose income but also their savings.
Common monsoon diseases (identified by Uplift) are:
- Water-borne: cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A, diarrhoea
- Vector-borne: malaria, dengue, haemorrhagic fever
- Due to exposure to water/rain: hypothermia, respiratory tract infections, leptospirosis
Photo shows: A bus on the street during the monsoon season in India
About the Project
Through ICMIF’s 5-5-5 Mutual Microinsurance Strategy, Uplift aims to bring health mutual aid solutions to an additional half a million low-income people in Mumbai and Pune over the next five years. The project was launched in August 2016 and is supported by ICMIF members, The Co-operators (Canada), Länsförsäkringar (Sweden) and the Achmea Foundation (The Netherlands).