Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Alleviating barriers to adoption of Hep-C in Rural Punjab
How might we drive the adoption of treatment for a disease that has been endemic in a region for many decades?
A vast percentage of the rural population in Punjab, India is afflicted with Hepatitis-C. However, treatment has not been adopted at the same rate. Research by pharmaceutical companies trying to penetrate the market synthesised that the primary reason was the high cost of treatment. However, huge subsidies in treatment costs and introduction of Hepatitis-C treatment loans, were still unable to trigger any noticeable change.
To deliver lasting change, we needed to design an intervention framework and strategy rooted in the idea of community education and empowerment to tackle systemic challenges at varied levels.
What was asked
Based on the assumption that the treatment’s financial model was the problem, Treemouse’s initial brief was to design a financing system that would reduce the perceived cost of treatment.
What we found
Our enthno-cultural research process uncovered a culture of misinformation, mistrust and confusion that existed around Hepatitis-C.
What we delivered
A culturally embedded marketing strategy aimed at delivering long-term sustainable impact towards adoption of hepatitis-C treatment.
Hepatitis-C (Kaala Peeliya) was generally confused with Jaundice (Peeliya).
‘Punjab has bad water’ was a strong belief because of the government’s water-related initiatives in the past.
Hepatitis-C’s dormant nature made patients complacent and in denial of the fact that it could be life-threatening.
Patients didn’t lack adequate finances, nor were they loan averse. However, they needed a trustworthy face and validation of reason before parting with large sums of money.
The patients had insufficient trust on ‘english’ doctors, medical counsellors and formal medicine.
Strategy and Approach
The key challenge emerged as a need to build an information and trust network, instead of the hypothesized financing system. It was also evident that effective grass-root level communication was needed for the company’s offering to become relevant in this ecosystem.
A Three-step strategy was devised
The first was to establish a richer vocabulary for conversations around Hepatitis-C within the local community.
The next was to guide the flow of patients towards formal treatment.
And the last was to sustain their trust in the formal medical system.
After a month of launching, we saw a 40% increase in patients reaching out to formal treatment channels to undergo therapy. There also was a rapid increase in patients willing to be routinely screened for early detection of Hepatitis-C. This project put forth a strong case towards more patient centric initiatives at Dr. Reddy’s. Using its success parameters this year saw a lot of focus towards ‘beyond the pill’ campaigns.