COVID has had a profound impact on the world, on the way we live, learn and work. It had an indelible impact on Arogya World as well. Some of our program work had to come to an abrupt halt because schools and workplaces were closed, and staff and frontline health workers couldn’t be mobilized. Still, we used the year well.
- We held several workplace health webinars during India’s six-month COVID lockdown. The #1 question that HR managers and business leaders asked us – show us how to help our employees maintain their mental health. Show us what we must do as an organization. So, in response to COVID times, we developed new workplace criteria for mental health – a first in India – working with Harvard professors from Librum. We also made the bold decision to merge them with our Healthy Workplace physical health/NCD prevention criteria and launched the comprehensive criteria at our Nov. 4 online Healthy Workplace conference. The first companies are undergoing assessments right now with the combined criteria.
- We ascertained that our school health program is aligned with India’s Ayushman Bharat National School Health curriculum and updated our manuals, increasing the emphasis on hygiene, etc. In response to COVID, we digitized our school health program working with Zobble, and are placing the digital content on the government platform Diksha. An effectiveness pilot is planned in 1Q 2021. We plan to roll out our digital school program to large numbers of middle school children in Maharashtra, and in Banda (UP) later in 2021. We believe our tools – school health program and MyThali – are important elements of an adolescent health strategy and we are taking important steps to get them onto the radar screen of the government of India.
- We had a positive presence at the Ashoka Globalizer Accelerator summit in Nov., the culmination of an intense six-month systems change strategy exercise. We also took part in a tech workshop organized by Ashoka in Singapore. Going forward we will be focused on tech transformation and leveraging the work of government and large partners to reach more beneficiaries indirectly.
- On MyThali, we started important relationships with influencers including Chef Saby and the Bangalore Foodies Club, and have made great strides in reaching urban women through social media. We wrote many articles on the importance of eating right to boost immunity, making our program more relevant to COVID times. On March 5, we held an important, multi-stakeholder meeting with many top nutrition authorities, working with PATH, and adapted MyThali for rural adolescent girls.
- In 2020, we shored up stakeholder relations and signed MOUs with heavyweight groups such as the Confederation of Indian Industry that we know will propel us forward. We are pleased to be on CII’s Public Health Council and look forward to participating actively.
- Conversations with Piramal Swasthya for mDiabetes expansion progressed well – more soon on this. We completed the RIST-supported mDiabetes project at Aravind and have just started picking up on Lions, Ambuja and other ongoing mHealth projects.
- We rolled out a work-from-home survey among working Indians and issued a report in Aug. We were invited to take part in a keynote session at the Global Healthy Workplace Summit in Nov. where our work-from-home survey results in India were discussed.
- In 2020 we celebrated our 10th anniversary and held a successful online gala. We were especially touched by the words of encouragement and appreciation from so many important stakeholders and partners.
We produced a digital cookbook of healthy recipes from famous Michelin-starred and award-winning chefs of Indian restaurants in the U.S. and sent that to all gala attendees.
We also held many important webinars throughout 2020 for U.S. audiences from exploring the NCD related fall-out from COVID – including mental health, diabetes, obesity, increased risk for COVID from underlying NCDs, race ramifications, impact on women and their families, etc. to providing interesting healthy cooking demonstrations.
Arogya World is well-positioned to grow our reach and our impact, and we look forward to helping India meet its Sustainable Development Goal commitments in the next decade.