The structural variables restrict choice-making for families who are poor, vulnerable to instability, or dependent on underdeveloped public systems. People are excluded from making decisions that impact their lives most due to ingrained power inequalities that underlie discriminatory societies and organisations. This stands true for most aspects, especially their health and nutrition. Social and behavioural change, however, can encourage actions to increase people’s control over the decisions they must make to uphold their rights.
Social and behaviour change strives to liberate people from structural constraints. These constraints often prevent them from adopting healthy behaviours and fostering more equal, inclusive, cohesive, and peaceful societies.
Prevalent health behaviours
Any nation’s population’s tendency to seek health depends on the country’s healthcare system. There is a significant gap in the distribution of healthcare facilities between urban and rural areas in developing nations like India, which has a direct impact on public health.
Despite substantial government expenditure, easy access to healthcare is still a big problem. In India, the distribution of health infrastructure between urban and rural areas is significantly skewed, with ~80% of that infrastructure serving urban India. Two-thirds of India’s population lives in rural areas where there is a severe lack of medical personnel, prompting them to turn to traditional healers, use home medicines, or resort to self-medication more generally.
Similar to health-seeking behaviour, healthcare utilisation is a dynamic term that is again time-dependent and influenced by a wide range of factors. The use of medical facilities is generally determined by variables including accessibility, comprehensiveness of care, and continuum of care. In India, there are large socioeconomic disparities in the use of healthcare facilities. People prefer to use private healthcare facilities because they are more convenient to access and offer more individualised care, as opposed to public facilities, which are thought to be of low quality, situated in remote locations, with long waiting times and inadequate facilities. Because of their limited resources, some impoverished people opt for self-care or skip counselling.
Through reliable sources, public health interventions and behaviour change communication tactics should be specifically targeted at the low socioeconomic communities. In order to best implement preventative measures, such as structural interventions to address poverty and employment policies to solve the unemployment crisis, correct public health communication is essential. To understand the actual behaviour change within the population, surveillance activity is required.
Any conduct that has an effect on a person’s physical, mental, or overall quality of life is referred to as health behaviour. Methods for changing behaviour such as motivation, capability, and the environment, may be directed towards people, organisations, communities, or populations.
Long-term maintenance of such behaviours is necessary for them to translate into community health, and factors affecting maintenance may be different from those encouraging change start.
Behaviour change programs
Over the past years, the importance of prevention within the healthcare system has grown manifolds and behaviour change has emerged as a primary goal of public health initiatives. A wide range of activities and strategies are included in behaviour modification programmes, which have developed over time. These activities and strategies concentrate on the influences of the individual, the community, and the environment on behaviour.
The pandemic was a giant stress test on the world’s healthcare ecosystem, impacting millions of people, especially the disadvantaged sections of society. STL continued to provide rural communities appropriate healthcare and work towards their wellbeing through its various outreach initiatives during the pandemic and even worked on several relief measures.
In addition to STL’s Mobile Medical Unit in Silvassa, it assimilated learnings from the pandemic and initiated a Telehealth-Onsite healthcare programme at Aurangabad, Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Nandurbar. The Company ensured that residents of these villages have access to healthcare at their doorsteps and anytime access to a doctor, medication, nutrition and doorstep testing facilities.
Over 12,000 teleconsultations were conducted in six months for rural residents across these three districts for the treatment of health concerns. While telemedicine is still relatively underutilised even in urban India, STL transformed access to quality healthcare across 200+ villages; making it available anytime, anywhere.
Today, STL’s health programmes have ensured that villagers across these districts are not deprived of essential healthcare. They are adequately cared for and are made aware of the need of sanitation and preventive care. They are also taught to leverage new and better ways of ensuring their own wellbeing