Sangath is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation committed to improving health across the lifespan by empowering existing community resources to provide appropriate physical, psychological and social therapies. Its primary focus areas include child development, adolescent and youth health, and mental health and chronic disease.
Started in 1996, it began as Goa’s first multi-disciplinary child development clinic based in Porvorim through the voluntary contributions of its seven founder-members. Sangath has now stretched its reach to become one of the state’s most influential health NGOs garnering local, national and international recognition.
Over the years, we have shifted to a public health model to increase the coverage of basic interventions for child development, adolescent health and mental health. The major barriers to accessing healthcare include an emphasis on providing care in medical settings, the lack of specialists and high costs of medical care.
A key element of our philosophy, therefore, is to strengthen state and private sector services by integrating affordable and effective interventions to ultimately scale up through sustainable health systems. We empower low-cost human resources with knowledge and supervision to improve access to healthcare for children with developmental disabilities, adolescents and young people, or people with any form of mental disorder.
We realise that NGOs have a limited reach in the Indian landscape and have fashioned ourselves to develop innovative strategies to bridge the treatment gap for mental disorders. Training and supervising low-cost human resources is one of our most inventive strategies, and examples of our work using this method include:
- Training lay people, whom we refer to as health counsellors, to deliver psychosocial treatments for depression in adults attending primary healthcare centres or for schizophrenia in community settings
- Training lay people or teachers, whom we refer to as school health counsellors, to deliver a package of interventions to promote the health and educational outcomes of adolescents in schools
- Integrating learning resource rooms and remedial education in mainstream schools to promote inclusive education for children with learning disabilities (such as LEL and Prayas)
- Training community outreach workers to promote the mental health of people living with HIV and their caregivers
Our work is driven by a few guiding principles:
- Multi-disciplinary interventions: We believe that a mix of social, psychological and medical interventions is needed to improve the health of our community. The collaboration of diverse academic and health disciplines is likely to generate the most effective treatments.
- Linking services with research: Sangath insists that its work be based on the best evidence available and that all that we do must be thoroughly evaluated and disseminated.
- Participatory methods: We strive to engage with beneficiaries and involve them actively in our work
- Inter-sectoral collaboration: Sangath believes that existing community resources, especially those in the public sector, provide the most sustainable setting for delivering interventions. Our work today involves a collaborative framework involving key partnerships with government health services, department of education, schools, other NGOs and the Goa Medical College.
- Scaling up: Our dream is to develop a model of care that is scaled up through government machinery. We constantly engage with policy makers right from developing our projects to disseminating our findings to achieve this goal.
Sangath is a nodal agency for the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities. We have also been awarded the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008 in recognition of our work.
We hope you enjoy reading about the things we do. Many thanks for your support, and do not hesitate to get in touch, should you need further information.