It’s that time of year where we find ourselves in the liminal space between the close of one year and the start of another. 

In more ways than one, 2023 has been a monumental year for us at Noora Health — we launched our flagship Care Companion Program (CCP) in Indonesia, our tuberculosis family care model was adopted for scaling at the national level by India’s Ministry of Health, we published five new research studies validating the effectiveness of our work, and took our trainings beyond hospitals, into communities. By the end of September 2023, we trained 2.7 million caregivers, representing 1.8 million patients across three countries — more than doubling our 2022 reach. 

In short, we kept busy and continued learning. Amidst this thrilling (and slightly terrifying!) growth and expansion, we wanted to pause and take a moment to celebrate some of the stories behind the numbers — a reminder that we’re all connected via the invisible threads of care, compassion, and love.

Becoming a more confident caregiver

In the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCANU) ward of the Bangladesh Shishu (Children’s) Hospital, Dhaka, 34-year-old Sabina is attending a CCP session for the second time in two days. Her newborn baby was recently admitted to the ward and she’s determined to do everything in her power to make sure that she can nurse him back to health.  

“This is my second child. During my first pregnancy, I was dependent on my mother — she was my only source of information. I remember one time my child was sick, but I didn’t know what warning signs to look out for, so we delayed taking him to the hospital.

But this time, I want to learn more and do everything right. Through the session, I learnt what symptoms to look out for and what I should do when I see them. I also loved learning about Kangaroo Mother Care. I never knew that we could take care of our baby in such a beautiful way,” she shares.

Sabina lives with her husband and mother-in-law in the district of Cumilla, which is about 100 kilometers away from Dhaka. She adds, “One of the most important things I learnt was that I don’t have to do this alone; even my family members can be involved. Now we can share the responsibility of taking care of our child. Together we feel less panicked and more confident about taking care of our son once he is discharged.”

Sabina is in a ward responding to a question during a Care Companion Program session at Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital.
Sabina responds to a question during a Care Companion Program session at Dhaka Shishu (Children’s) Hospital.

Strengthening the threads of care between caregivers and patients

How does Pragati, a pediatric nurse at JJ Hospital in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, help new mothers and families care for their children?

In our latest installment of the CCP Chronicles, a series where we showcase the voices of the people behind the Care Companion Program, Pragati shares her aspiration and determination to help families — especially mothers — to care for their children. She proudly talks about how the CCP has helped her connect with and train many families, leading to better health outcomes for their children. 

Watch the full story below to hear how Pragati’s training helped save a young patient’s life.

Cultivating deeper connections across diverse teams

Everything we have achieved in 2023 we owe to our teams — the engines behind our work which changed, evolved, and grew significantly over the course of the past year. To help us reach our ambitious scaling goals, in January 2023, we unveiled a new operating model where we reimagined team structures, roles, and ways of working. 

“As people settled into their roles and found their rhythm, I saw people start shifting to a scale mindset and collaborating more across teams,” shares Dr. Seema Murthy, the executive director of our India team. 

In both Indonesia and Bangladesh, we started the year with small teams that grew exponentially bigger over time. Arefin Islam, our country director in Bangladesh adds, “With people coming in from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and areas of expertise, this year, we experimented with new ways of thinking and doing, allowing us to collectively build our strength as a team.”

This is not to say that there weren’t growing pains. The year was both challenging — in terms of our ambitious impact goals and rapid organizational growth — but also exhilarating and confidence boosting as people rose to the occasion and came together to surpass anything we could have ever imagined. “It’s been a cycle of learning-doing-growing across the organization, but especially for us in Indonesia, where we launched our program in September,” says Asken Sinaga, who recently joined us as the country director. 

Through this whirlwind of change, the one constant has been our values of accountability and equity.

“Beyond the technical expertise of the team, I think the secret ingredient behind our impact has been the respect and empathy with which we communicate with all our partners,” adds Arefin. “I remember this moment post a four-day training workshop where I overheard a group of nurses talking about how they had attended many training sessions during their career, but Noora Health’s was the only one that gave them love, sincerity, and affection. They said it motivated them to keep conducting sessions with patients and caregivers.”

Needless to say, 2023 has given us a lot to celebrate, reflect upon, and look forward to as we commemorate 10 years of Noora Health in 2024. In Bangladesh, where our programs have been running for two years, we’re excited to see the results from a research study, which will be an important piece of evidence to advocate for including caregivers within health systems. We will continue to adapt and customize our model to the needs of Indonesia’s health system, strengthening team foundations along the way. And finally, in India, we’re looking at how to make the CCP more sustainable and reach more communities, via integrating it further into public systems or exploring working with private systems more. 

“My biggest takeaway from this year has been: Be bold and strategic. If you have big dreams (like we do!) you cannot be overly cautious. You have to take calculated risks and be open to the possibility of failure — things may go your way one day and not another,” concludes Seema. “It’s with this spirit and renewed commitment to our mission that we’re entering 2024 and everything it has in store for us.”