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Shobha Arole

Raj Arole was born in Jamkhed, India, and in spite of the difficult circumstances of his upbringing, he studied at one of the most prestigious medical colleges in India, the Christian Medical College at Vellore. There he met his wife-to-be Mabelle and, on their wedding day, they vowed to work together and devote their lives to the marginalized and disenfranchised people living in Indian villages. Today, their daughter Shobha, a medical doctor and holistic family practice specialist, is the Director of the CRHP, and her brother Ravi is Director of Operations.

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Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP)
Model
Non-profit Social Enterprise
Sectors
Global Health; Education and Skills; Gender Parity
Headquarters
India
Areas of Impact
South Asia, India

Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP)

The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), a community-based healthcare programme for the rural poor, has brought about extraordinary health and social improvements in hundreds of villages in Maharashtra. Despite the region’s extreme poverty, severe gender and caste inequality and minimal public health services, CRHP has achieved exceptional results by training local village healthcare workers and helping villagers address economic, social, agricultural and health needs through self-organization.

In the early days of CRHP, the Aroles earned the trust of communities by inviting all groups to volleyball games, which then became meeting places for discussions about village development. These discussions led to the formation of farmers' clubs to address such issues as inadequate drinking water and poor sanitation. The clubs eventually conducted health surveys as a crucial step towards overcoming traditional beliefs about the causes of disease, and identified simple ways to improve health, like draining puddles that attracted mosquitoes. The clubs encouraged women to become village health workers. With coaching and guidance from the Aroles, these women provided prenatal care, monitored child immunizations and coordinated village waste management. The village health workers in turn organized women's development associations, which initiated credit circles to fund cooperative business enterprises.

Between 1971 and 1993 infant mortality rates in areas where CRHP worked plunged by 84%, while maternal mortality dropped by 75%. CRHP has been increasingly involved in public policy advocacy, while establishing a primary healthcare model for relevant, appropriate and cost-effective community-based hospital care. Their training programmes in community-based health and development, leadership, management, and personal development have been replicated worldwide, impacting communities in +100 countries. The knowledge and skills have been shared with +20,000 participants nationally and internationally for more than a decade.