ACT For Health concludes its pilot needs assessment study

In order to understand the healthcare innovation landscape from the perspective of medical professionals, ACT conducted a detailed needs assessment study with 45 doctors and physicians from 23 hospitals across 12 states – 50% of whom were privately managed, 30% were charitable and 20% were government run.

The set of hospitals we partnered with for this study were largely at the tertiary point of care and the doctors were uniformly distributed across ACT For Health’s focus areas of diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis, and mental health.

This pilot study helped ACT identify and understand the broad categories of challenges faced by healthcare providers, from screening and diagnosis to treatment and recovery, and assess where technology-based innovation can potentially play a role in improving health care delivery systems.

We found that:

1. Doctors use multiple channels to keep a tab on the latest developments in technology, and WhatsApp group being one of the most common & easily accessible channel

2. Nearly 75% of doctors we interviewed from urban areas are currently using or have used a tech based product compared to only 25% in rural & semi-urban areas. This might be due to the lack of awareness & availability in rural and semi-urban areas.

3. Across the disease areas, one of the most common and critical needs is to strengthen the primary care centers with screening and diagnostic facilities along with capacity building of the general physicians.

4. Lack of awareness about these long-term diseases, especially among patients from rural areas is one of the major challenges.

5. There is a need to strengthen counseling services to help patients and family members understand the diagnosis of such diseases, help them cope with the stress, and improve treatment compliance.

6. Another critical challenge is the misdiagnosis / late diagnosis of a disease at primary care level. For example with cancer, early diagnosis is critical but there are many cases where patients come for diagnosis only at stage 3. Most of these cases could have been diagnosed at an earlier stage at the primary care level if not for the lack of adherence to protocols, diagnostic facilities & well-trained medical personnel.

In the next phase, we plan to conduct a mixed-methodology based research study through surveys and in-depth interviews of general physicians and doctors in primary and secondary care across the country to deep-dive further into some of these nuances.

To know more about the results of our pilot needs assessment study, click here.

ACT For Education portfolio comes together to reimagine edtech for Bharat

We believe that when mission driven individuals come together as a community, magic can happen!️

August saw our entire ACT For Education portfolio come together in Delhi to learn from each other and collaborate with each other. The 2 days were an immersive mix of expert sessions & discussions which galvanised our EdTech For Bharat entrepreneurs around positively shifting the landscape in the time to come.

With over 30 attendees, the event consisted of 8 sessions that were led by different entrepreneurs and explored a variety of topics such as collaborating with the government, role of digital public goods and how to leverage YouTube to scale. We debated key challenges in the current system & brainstormed on enablers that could help us achieve educational social impact at scale – each of us leaving with a thousand ideas on building the future of edtech for good – together.

Our heartfelt gratitude to Manan Khurma (Founder – Cuemath), Sanjay Purohit (Chief Curator – Societal Platform), Gouri Gupta (Director – Central Square Foundation), Rahul Kulkarni (Chief Technologist – Samagra), Erica Arya (India Head – Project Tech4Dev), Mekin Maheshwari (Founder – Udhyam Learning Foundation) & Mohit Bhatnagar (MD – Sequoia Capital) for sharing their wisdom with our incredible group of social entrepreneurs.

At ACT, our community is our superpower. We hope to create more such spaces in the future as we continue to grow our portfolio and catalyse more edtech innovations for Bharat!

Josh Skills joins the ACT For Education portfolio

India’s labour force participation is strikingly low as many youth are unable to secure jobs due to their inability to converse in English – a common requirement for many well-paying jobs.

This language barrier often restricts them from leveraging high-quality skill development courses which are mostly available in English and even for those who can navigate English courses, the user experience is theoretical and doesn’t build confidence in spoken English.

India is very unique given that the majority of the youth know some English but don’t have an environment where they can practice it freely to gain the confidence to speak. Based on this key insight, JoshTalks created the Josh Skills mobile app that offers affordable English courses which are custom created for the youth of Bharat.

Josh Skills certainly isn’t the first app made for spoken English but the high cost of acquisition & the need for live classes are big reasons why many other such courses are expensive and inaccessible to the masses.

With over 17Mn subscribers on their YouTube channel, the Josh team has a strong comparative advantage to attract users and have created a seamless peer to peer learning feature which allows them to practice English with each other; thus reducing the dependency on teachers.

ACT for Education is excited to partner with the JoshSkills team to open up affordable access to the app for youth from low-income backgrounds and develop intelligent content to personalise their learning journey!

ACT For Environment brings Centre For Environmental Concerns (CEC) on board

India accounts for 18% of the world’s population yet just 4% of the world’s water resources. It is the 13th most water stressed country in the world. Agriculture uses 84% of this water. At the same time, our utilization of agricultural water is clearly inefficient – 38% efficiency in comparison to 70-80% in the USA; in other words, 62% of water used for agriculture is being wasted. Groundwater in India contributes 62% of irrigated farming, while groundwater withdrawal increased tenfold between 1980 and 2015.

The challenge is practically nationwide with 256 districts experiencing water stress, and increasingly farmers must rely on expensive tanker water as local groundwater is unavailable. Groundwater is used to grow high-value farm income crops of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and agro-forestry whose demand is rising. Most fruit trees mature to peak yield phase and fetch high income only after 3 to 5 years; in the absence of steady water supply and expensive tanker water, many farmers retain a few high productivity trees and let the others wither. At the same time, farmers face little incentive to conserve water, and often overuse water, to the point of requiring excess fertilizer consumption and sub-optimal yields.

In short, inefficient use of water is devastating to both India’s natural environment as well as agricultural incomes. We need to urgently address our groundwater levels, and radically improving agricultural water utilization is an important starting point for this.

We are excited to fund CEC (Centre for Environmental Concerns) – the creator of SWAR – to dramatically reduce water consumption, promote soil health, reduce fertilizer requirements and improve crop yields and thus farmer incomes.

System of Water for Agricultural Rejuvenation (SWAR) is a sub-soil water diffuser which can connect to existing drip irrigation systems to deliver moisture in a calibrated manner to the root zone, where it is most needed, ensuring optimal absorption and eliminating evaporation losses. It has been proven to yield water savings of 30-70%, reduce soil nutrient requirements by approximately 30%, improve crop quality and yield (5-10%) and increase farmer incomes by Rs. 35,000+ per acre.

The product was developed with scientists and farmers with the dual purpose of ensuring water security and increasing livelihoods for small and marginal farmers.

The SWAR system is much more comprehensive than just water savings and covers the 5 Ms:

  • Moisture
  • Measurement
  • Microbes
  • Mychorisae (Fungi to support plant root health)
  • Management

To us, this holistic and systemic approach to soil health, farmer needs, and agricultural water efficiency is an enormous area of differentiation.

ACT For Environment will be working with the CEC team to ensure the widespread adoption of SWAR, scaling the business side of operations and accelerating sales to reach more farmers across India, while continuing to serve marginal farmers.

ACT Capital Foundation For Social Impact is a not-for-profit company incorporated and registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. All donations made to ACT Capital Foundation are eligible for income tax deduction under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.

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