The SOCHARA journey began when a group of young people attempted to evolve an alternative approach to health and well-being rooted in the community. Community Health Cell (CHC) started in 1984 as study-reflection-action experiment. The experiment aimed to explore the evolving principles and critical issues in community health in India. This phase involved promoting and facilitating the enabling dimension in Health care and well-being; the socio epidemiological approach; and participatory ethos in management and action. In June 1990 the project was reviewed by academics, NGOs and voluntary agencies involved in health action and CHC was registered as Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action (SOCHARA).
Community Health Cell (CHC) is a functional unit of the Society for Community Health Awareness, Research and Action (SOCHARA) since the society’s inception. It works with a large network of non-government and government institutions, health and developmental campaign groups and people’s movements to make them part of this ‘Health for All’ movement. CHC contributes towardsSOCHARA objectives through training and interactive discussions, participatory reflections and review, research and evaluation, peer group support and networking and solidarity.
Centre for Public Health and Equity (CPHE) is an additional functional unit of SOCHARA. It was formally inaugurated in December 2008 during the Silver Jubilee year of Community Health Cell (CHC). It works predominantly in the areas of public health education and policy advocacy. It promotes a new public health paradigm focused on health equity; social justice; underlying social determinants of health including gender; inclusive and responsive health systems; and health policy development. CPHE was evolved from the public health education and health policy action, and advocacy work of SOCHARA at state, national and global levels and complemented the focus of CHC on action, networking and solidarity with civil societies.
Community Health Library and Information Centre (CLIC) evolved gradually, in response to the priorities and issues that emerged. CLIC today provides a trusted, accessible and widely connected library and information service through the SOCHARA website; CLIC units in each of the centres at Bengaluru, Chennai and Bhopal provide regular updates in the centers through Health Round-up. Through its innovative use of technology, CLIC ensures that library users and information seekers have easy access to a rich array of relevant information and resources.
More recently SOCHARA is evolving into a School of Public Health, Equity and Action (SOPHEA) since 2011, dedicated to the education of the diverse group of researchers, activist’s community builder’s community health and public health professionals through a process inseparably linked to justice, equity, culture, community health interventions, and development, through teaching learning programmes, research and advocacy. It is particularly focused on the community health fellowships in Bengaluru and Bhopal.