Skoll Foundation


World Health Partners

Skoll Awardee(s): Gopi Gopalakrishnan
Award Year: 2013
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Health

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Increase of health delivery costs and decrease of availability of quality health care. The existing health markets simply cannot serve the poor.

  • Most developing countries suffer from severe shortage of physicians – in India, the physician-to-patient ratio is six to 10,000.
  • In India, the issue is compounded in rural areas, where 70 percent of the population lives, but only 3 percent of the country’s specialist physicians practice.
  • In Bihar, the poorest Indian state with the population of 104 million people, the public healthcare system is stretched beyond capacity, reaching only about half of the villages with often low quality of care and inadequate medical supplies.
  • A large proportion of the population receives its care through informal rural health providers who enjoy high credibility and trust in the communities but often lack skills, training, and access to medical supplies that will enable them play a more useful role.


  • World Health Partners (WHP) identifies practicing informal private sector health providers at the village level, and networks them into a supply chain of medical products with support through marketing, training, and use of technology.
  • Using WHP’s telemedicine tools, the networked rural providers connect to a Central Medical Facility, allowing patients in rural areas to interact with highly qualified specialists in real time, with the rural provider serving as the key and trusted liaison between the patient and the doctor.
  • The system allows for a comprehensive and integrated health service delivery to the rural poor built on existing human and physical resources.
  • WHP relies on value-added services, technology, and business relationships to create incentives that build long term business interests of the providers, directly contributing to the sustainability of the network.
  • When necessary, WHP provides heavy subsidies to patients who cannot pay – the practice that doesn’t undermine the business integrity of the provider since it builds on a viable business model that has already been created for the non-poor, thereby ensuring access to quality care by the poorest of the poor. Where possible, WHP also draws from public sector support to serve the needs of the poor.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2013:

  • World Health Partners expanded to Africa (Kenya) in 2014. WHP is partnering with KMET, a Kenyan NGO, to launch a rural telemedicine social franchise network in western Kenya. comprising 60 telemedicine-enabled village level entrepreneurs – mostly existing community health workers – linked through KMET’s clinics. As of Oct. 2014, the network has grown to include 14 clinics, 78 community health volunteers and 373 tele-consultations.
  • Prior to WHP’s presence in Bihar, WHP estimated that only five percent of the state’s population  had access to quality healthcare. Currently, WHP is on track to achieving 70 percent coverage in Bihar in the coming years.
  • In Bihar, WHP works in 13 active districts, giving access to government TB and VL treatments. They have 534 sky health telemedicine centers and 3,930 sky care rural providers in Bihar.
  • Since 2011, WHP providers have treated more than 1.1 million cases of diarrhea. WHP has distributed more than 30 million zinc tablets—critical to treatment.
  • They have had more than 120,000 successful telemedicine consultations in India
  • Served millions of patients through a total of 6,000 rural Sky franchisees
  • More than 980,000 children have been treated for pneumonia at SkyHealth Centers in India since 2011.
  • The WHP network in Bihar is growing rapidly, adding as many 400 villages per month.
  • In Uttar Pradesh, WHP has averted 460,429 pregnancies, and provided 5 to 10 times more family-planning services than similar programs in India. The average cost of providing clinic family planning services is $3.54. In Uttar Pradesh, they have 797 skycare rural providers, 75 sky health centers, 3,920 skymed pharmacies, 9 franchised diagnostic centers and 12 franchised medical clinics.
  • WHP rural health providers are present in about 4,000 villages. By 2015 WHP expects to have a presence in more than 20,000 villages.
  • WHP has connected more than 62,000 rural patients to urban doctors just in the component using telemedicine, and estimates that about 760,000 patients have gone through the WHP system in overall terms.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.