Ambuja Cement Foundation’s Sakhis strive to foster healthier rural India


New Delhi: Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF), the CSR arm of Ambuja Cements Ltd – part of the global conglomerate LafargeHolcim and a leading cement manufacturer in India – has made great strides in its endeavors to create a healthy rural India with over one lakh people being provided healthcare treatment every year through its nationwide project ‘Sakhi’, thus taking forward its commitment to drive prosperity in communities.

Under this Health and Sanitation intervention, a group of well-trained women healthcare volunteers known as ‘Sakhis’ has been delivering preventive and promotive health services to underprivileged communities as well as facilitating the access to preventive, promotive and curative services in as many as 194 villages across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Till date, ACF has trained 352 women as Sakhis, on various health-related aspects. These women are from the local community and hence are well-versed with the existing challenges. More than 110 Sakhis have been absorbed as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), who are community health workers instituted by the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as part of the National Rural Health Mission.

Sharing her views on this initiative, Ambuja Cement Foundation Head Pearl Tiwari said, “We take pride in our Sakhi initiative that envisages development of healthy communities. It brings us immense delight to see the progress and results on the ground. ACF realises the need to create more awareness on health and sanitation in rural India, which will lead to sustainable progress. We believe that women are important change agents in every community and our Sakhis are one of the best examples to prove this.”

ACF, which recently marked its Silver Jubilee year, has stepped up its efforts to further strengthen and expand this unique initiative while seeking greater collaborations. Through these ‘Village Health Functionaries’, ACF primarily focuses on Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases and Total Sanitation & Curative Health. It extends these healthcare services at the doorsteps via mobile medicare units, community health clinics, diagnostic centers and specialised health camps among others.

In fact, ACF has been going beyond CSR activities and recognised as a grassroots pan-India implementing organisation that harnesses the power of partnerships – between communities, Government and other like-minded corporates and NGOs – to help solve pressing community problems and foster prosperity.

Ms Tiwari added, “We are proud of our existing partnerships with a diverse set of stakeholders and welcome other organisations to come forward and join hands with ACF to make such projects even more successful. Over 25 years of strong experience as an implementation agency for various initiatives gives us further impetus to do more in every thrust area we are operating in”

This ‘Sakhi’ project initiated in 2005 has been thriving year after year supported by stronger collaborations with various state governments’ Health Departments, panchayats, Village Health and Sanitation Committees, like-minded Corporates and NGOs. ACF has held over 5200 specialty health camps, facilitated construction of 30,000 toilets and achieved 100% toilet coverage for 131 villages. Besides, ACF is also working in 101 villages to combat non-communicable diseases that require urgent attention in rural India.