Social Franchising in health for providing RCH services: Merrygold Health Network (MGHN)

State Innovations in Family Planning Project Services Agency (SIFPSA), Government of Uttar Pradesh, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT), a not for profit trust promoted by HLL Lifecare Ltd. , announced the launch of "Merrygold Health Network" at an inaugural function held on 23rd August 2007. Mr. A. K. Mishra, IAS Principal Secretary, Govt of UP along with Mr. George Deikun, Mission Director, USAID inaugurated the launch program and unveiled the brand of Merrygold Health Network.

The overall aim of Merrygold Health Network (MGHN) was to scale up institutional deliveries to reduce MMR & IMR in the state of UP, increased demand/ patient loads by providing MCH services at 30 - 50% below the prevailing market price.

Merrygold Health Network (MGHN) is self sustainable, social franchising model under Public Private Partnership aimed to offer high quality and affordable maternal health services along with family planning services to the poor and marginalized communities. The three tier network aims to increase provide economical accessibility by engaging private healthcare providers.

The Level -1 Merrygold hospitals provides maternal and child health services. Merrygold hospitals provides emergency obstetric care facility, normal/C-section delivery, IUD, FP, ultrasound, lab services, Pharmacy, ambulance tie-up, social marketing of RCH products, FP counseling, referral services, immunization. Later in 2013, to enhance the services portfolio two new services namely Infertility Treatment and Cancer surveillance services also added under the Merrygold hospitals.

The Level 2 Merry Silver clinic provides normal delivery, IUD, FP, social marketing of RCH products, FP counseling, referral services and immunization services. The Level L3 Merry Tarang members are the referral unit who refer the clients to the network hospitals and also provide social marketing of RCH products, FP counseling, referral services among the community.

For creating more visibility and to increase the awareness level among the community and enhance the footfalls in franchisee hospitals, the various marketing and communication activities are undertaking in MGHN districts.

Since its inception, the project has developed a network of 70 Merrygold Hospitals at district level, 371 Merrysilver clinics are at sub-district level, and 10,880 Merrytarang partners by involving 441 private qualified practitioners, including obstetricians and gynaecologists. To ensure success, more than 500 doctors, 2,000 paramedics, and 475 non-clinical staff members have been trained on institutional delivery, antenatal care, postnatal care, appearance and behaviour, infection prevention, waste management, family planning and counselling. Quality assurance and medical audits are carried out every three months so as to ensure that franchisee hospitals are providing quality services of ISO & NABH standard.

Till December 2013 about 8.80 lacs pregnant women received ANC services and more than 1.68 lacs institutional deliveries conducted through Merrygold Health Network. Emphasis was also given to family planning services and more than 50 thousand beneficiaries received FP services which include more than10000 sterilization services besides approx. 40000 IUCD insertion.

Several studies were undertaken to assess the viability of various components (design, sustainability, quality and client satisfaction) of the MGHN model by reputed agencies which suggested changes in operations and marketing activities of the franchiser as well as relining the existing franchisees to the network's vision and frame work before entering into expansion phase.

Currently Merrygold Health Network is running in 35 districts of U.P. with the objective to strengthen the existing network which comprises with 64 Merrygold urban/rural hospitals, 176 Merry Silver clinics out of these, selected Merry Silver clinics will be upgraded to Rural Merrygold hospitals located at block level or peri urban areas and 9150 Merry Trang partners are serving as referral agent.

Two Regional Training centre for PPIUCD have been established at Merrygold hospitals Agra & Kanpur under the network. The toll free help line number is 1800 180 2499 (Timing: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM , excluding Sundays and holidays)

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