Shelly Batra

Operation ASHA - Fighting Tuberculosis Worldwide

Operation ASHA (OpASHA) is an organization that brings tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis, treatment and prevention to the most disadvantaged populations in India and Cambodia, and utilizes its low-cost ‘last mile’ pipeline to deliver other health and financial services.

Focus: Health, BOP
Geographic Area of Impact: India, Cambodia
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 30,500 fully treated patients, 124 jobs to disadvantaged youths
Annual Budget: USD $ 750,000
Percentage Earned Revenue: 2%

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared tuberculosis (TB) a global emergency in 2003. As a global pandemic but a fully curable disease, it kills 2 million people every year and 8 million new cases emerge every year. Moreover, 95% of TB deaths occur in low and middle income countries and India carries a quarter of the world’s TB burden.

Innovation and Activities
Operation ASHA is tackling the fractured delivery system of Government of India’s TB control program through a doorstep TB service that is low-cost, high quality and accessible to the poor. It partners with the Government to ensure “last mile” access of treatment and to reduce default rates amongst patients, thus preventing both the spread of the disease and MDR TB.

Operation ASHA adopts the DOTS-Directly-Observed Therapy Short Course, an international treatment standard launched by the WHO, where for 6 months, patients swallow each dose in the presence of trained DOTS provider. To facilitate access, Operation ASHA runs a network of 234 TB treatment centers within existing neighborhoods – shops, homes, temples and clinics – chosen strategically to ensure easy access and inconspicuous enough for them to avoid the stigma of being identified as TB patients. The centers are managed by local entrepreneurs and unemployed youth who are trained as DOTS providers. In villages and in Meking delta of Cambodia, Operation ASHA reaches patients on motorbikes, bicycles and even on boats.

OpASHa’s e-Compliance Initiative (a portable biometric identification system) ensures rigorous tracking and has reduced default rates to 3% (3-20 times lower). Operation ASHA has treated patients with over a 90% success rate and lowered the cost of treatment by 15 times compared to others. The model has also been successfully replicated in Uganda.

Operation ASHA has successfully created an effective last mile pipeline that reaches and delivers treatments to bottom of the pyramid customers. It has distributed more than 570,000 painkillers, and several thousands of antacids, antiemetics, iron tablets, calcium tablets, condoms, sachets of Oral Rehydration Salt, packets of protein supplements, 5 tons of food, 4000 blankets free of cost.

The Entrepreneur
Dr.Shelly Batra, a renowned Gynaecologist and Obstetrics Surgeon has a compelling vision – a tuberculosis-free world. Dr.Batra has lectured at many leading institutions including the University of Chicago and Harvard University in the US and Cambridge, UK. She obtained herMD from King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, Indi and has served the needy with free consultations and surgeries before founding Operation ASHA in 2005.