Bengaluru: At a time when public or even community health continues to be not taken seriously and not much thought is given to it at policy making level, the Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA) looks at community health through a social, economic, cultural, political and ecological lens.
The main reason for the group to look at healthcare through this lens is to shift the current profit-making medical model to a more social model which is helpful to the individual. Its most recent effort has been to make the city tobacco-free and bring in changes at the policy level.
“SOCHARA started in 1984 informally, but was registered in 1990. The idea for the group was to be a catalyst of change for community health among different sectors. It also included building links with NGOs, institutions and national organisations and associations in the voluntary sector and various networks in civil society in the country," says Mr S.J. Chander, Programme Officer, SOCHARA, who has been with the group for the past 25 years.
“The group is mainly about policy advocacy, research and training, community action and partnerships, teaching and training initiatives, and research and engagement with the public health system. We focus on social determinants of health and community action,” he says, stressing that health should be looked at from a social justice parameter and not just “needle for needle or pill for pill” perspective.
In the city, SOCHARA is connected to some 20 organisations and works with street children, women's rights groups and other networks to bring about a movement in areas like health, pollution and environment. "Recently, some 80 health inspectors were trained at one of our workshops and now they will draw up an action plan for a tobacco-free city," he says.
“The idea is to strengthen health movements so that attention and action is taken on immediate healthcare lapses and issues. SOCHARA continues to participate and strengthen health movements, supporting and engaging with people, communities, professional bodies and governments for equitable health and development, towards the goal of ‘Health for All’," he sums up.