Su-Swastha

Su-Swastha is a commercially viable, socially responsible business model implemented in rural India.

Summary  

  • What: The Su-Swastha project aims to increase access to quality healthcare products at affordable prices.
  • Objective: The project is a commercially viable, socially responsible business model aiming to educate and create awareness about health, especially targeting underserved populations in rural India.
  • Scope: Its portfolio includes over the counter (OTC) products, addressing therapeutic areas such as: cough, cold and allergies; immunity and malnutrition; diabetic neuropathy; diarrhea; and dermatology.
  • Details: The business broke even in its third year and is expected to turn profitable in its fourth year.

Su-Swastha programme aims to increase access to quality healthcare products at an affordable price in rural India, and to address the lack of healthcare infrastructure in rural areas.

Looking closer

India has a population of 1 billion with 70% of its population living in rural areas. Yet urban areas account for approximately 70% of the hospital beds and 80% of the doctors: healthcare institutions and expertise are generally difficult to access in rural areas. Rural areas in India also have an emerging middle class, with a disposable income expected to increase from USD 411 in 2010 to USD 631 by 2020.

Su-Swastha is a commercially viable, socially responsible business model aiming to educate and create awareness about health, especially targeting the people at the base of the income pyramid. It aims to increase access to quality healthcare products at affordable prices in rural India. Su-Swastha not only offers products, but also aims to empower patients and healthcare professionals in rural areas through community-level education. The pilot was implemented in small towns in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, in eastern India. Its focus is on small ailments such as coughs and colds; women’s and children’s health; and “everyday health protection.”

Plans are being developed to work with Merck KGaA’s Biopharma business in order to expand the range of products targeting additional diseases, as the pilot has been scaled up throughout 2015. Merck KGaA is considering further scale-up by replicating this model in low- and middle-income countries where access to health is a challenge (e.g., Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia). After the conceptualisation of the project in 2013, 100 community-led meetings were conducted. In association with a non-governmental organisation, six health camps were organised on a pilot basis. In 2014, 101 community level meetings and 17 health camps were organised. In 2015, the number of community level meetings increased to 656 and health camps increased to 68. In 2016, until the first quarter, 172 community level meetings and 20 health camps have been organised, reaching about 40,000 people.

The business broke even in its third year and is expected to turn profitable in its fourth year. Activities will be expanded across India, reaching patients in extra-urban areas.

 

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