This year marks a decade since ACF and Apollo Tyres Foundation partnered together to initiate health interventions for truckers in India. Ms. Rinika Grover, Head - Sustainability & CSR at Apollo Tyres Ltd, speaks at length about the power of ‘going together’ when it comes to CSR.
Ask Rinika Grover what is one of the key drivers of the Apollo Tyres CSR Strategy, and she is quick to point to Sustainable Development Goal 17 – Partnership with Goals. As such, Apollo Tyres Foundation (ATF) walks the talk and focuses on collaborating with like-minded organisations with a shared vision for project implementation – and ACF is one of them!
When it comes to ACF & ATF the shared vision revolves around better health for one of the primary stakeholders of both parent companies – truckers. “Truck drivers in India suffer from many lifestyle-related health problems and they hardly find basic healthcare services at transhipment hubs or on highways. A study conducted on drivers revealed that over 50% of drivers experience health issues.” Ms Grover says.
It all began when ACF CEO, Pearl Tiwari, was lunching with then CSR Head at Apollo Tyres, actively discussing the common concern about the health of the trucking community. “Truckers were an important key stakeholder for both organisations, and as the backbone of India’s supply chain and Apollo Tyres biggest customer, there was a tremendous opportunity to work together and do something about it.” Rinika said.
“So in 2009, a Healthcare Centre was opened under a Corporate-Corporate Partnership between ATF and Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF) based on a matching funding model. The first centre was established at the Dhulagarh Truck Terminal on the outskirts of Kolkata (West Bengal). The success of this centre saw us roll out an expansion of healthcare centres to 3 key trucking locations - Surat (Gujrat), Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh) and Farakka (West Bengal). These centres provide basic healthcare services to the trucker community to improve their overall health and well-being.” Rinika Grover shares.
“We started with HIV/AIDS at a time when it was considered a taboo in the community. Over the years, the programme has evolved, catering to various health issues experienced by truckers. Given their nomadic lifestyles, lack of access to basic healthcare services has been a concurrent problem. Our centres found that drivers required services for a variety of key health challenges such as vision, Tuberculosis (TB), high blood pressure and so on.” She said.
“So we introduced vision testing services at the healthcare centres, where eye check-ups are conducted and spectacles are distributed at low cost to people identified with refractive error issues. Cataract patients are linked with nearby hospitals for further treatment. TB services were initiated in 2017 for the trucking community, given its co-infection with HIV. We provide regular awareness sessions to prevent TB, and to bring TB treatment and testing to the doorstep of the beneficiaries, Designated Microscopy Centres are established. We also link beneficiaries who are found TB positive with Directly Observed Treatment Short-term Course (DOTS) facility.” Ms Grover outlines.
“Based on the everyday findings from the Outpatient Department (OPD) at each healthcare centre, diabetes and high blood pressure were identified as two significant health risks that challenge truck drivers. To support the drivers, the programme added testing for both risks. For Diabetes, we provide rapid sugar testing kit at each centre, and based on the symptoms, sugar test is undertaken for the beneficiary. Followed by this, the beneficiary is provided information on further medical help. Similarly, for high BP, there is a facility at each centre to detect and subsequently prescribe medicine with proper advice.” Ms Grover shares.
“The ongoing plans are to increase the remit of services, but equally critical is to incorporate innovative models and technology to cater to more beneficiaries.” She said. “Our main objective is to provide health care and well-being services to our key stakeholders, the trucking community as they are the backbone of India’s supply chain and our biggest customer. The Healthcare Centres are established at the doorstep of the trucking community ensuring accessibility and availability of basic healthcare services to them. The overall impact is measured on the wellbeing of drivers and increase in their health seeking behaviours, which enables business continuity.”
The partnership has been a win-win-win for ATF, ACF and truckers in India! “Our engagement with ACF has been exceptional, one that we are proud of. The partnership has helped the programme to increase its outreach and intervention – making the programme scalable. The shared vision and commitment to the cause is a testimony of the partnership holding together and hoping to expand this further - our intention is to accelerate and amplify this journey further.” Ms Grover said.
“Certainly, taking a partnerships approach is the way forward. And it’s not just corporate but cross sector partnerships for implementation that are essential to deliver a programme, such as Healthcare, for a wider reach and deeper impact.”
She said. “Go fast, go alone. Go far, go together!” she quips.
Head - Sustainability & CSR