Aboutus | Desh Health

About Us

Deepam Educational Society for Health (DESH), is a well-known Non-Governmental Organization, registered in 1991, covered under section 12A and 80G of Income Tax Act and FCRA.

DESH’s Founder and Chairperson, Dr. Saraswathi Sankaran, a Sociologist specialized in lifestyle analysis, was motivated to initiate prevention work in HIV/AIDS, based on what she had seen and experienced during her stay in Tanzania, Africa, during the mid-eighties, and was convinced about the potential threat this epidemic held for India. This was at a time when India still believed that this epidemic would not seriously affect this country. She has worked for over two decades as a counsellor in areas of "Level of Living", "Welfare", "Alcoholism" and "Drug Abuse".:

DESH's main objective is to promote health and well-being by imparting Social Health Education (SHE), emphasizing the enhancement of social skills and life skills. DESH empowers individuals to develop “Mental Arsenal” by using Mental Vaccination and Thinking Tool to counter unhealthy peer pressure. DESH uses innovative concepts, interactive training modules and educational materials, effectively establishing health movements to facilitate the journey of thousands of individuals towards safer and healthier lifestyle. Over last 27 years DESH has built infrastructure with offices Pan India, a training centre impacting millions of individuals.

Governing Committee

Governing Committee Office Bearers
• Prof. M. S. Swaminathan – Patron.
• Dr. Saraswathi Sankaran – Chairperson.
[Founder Chairman was former Chief Secretary of TN Government: Mr. T.V. Antony I.A.S., Second Chairman was Mr.Karthikeyan I.A.S.; Third Chairman was Mr.N.Vaghul, ICICI; and Fourth Chairman was Mr. V. R. Sankaran, Founder, DESH].
• Col R. Hariharan VSM Retd – Secretary and Treasurer.

National:Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (GoI); National AIDS Control Organization (NACO); State AIDS Control Societies (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi); CAPACS; Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (TAI-VHS); India HIV/AIDS Alliance; TATA TRUSTS; and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd.;

International: UNICEF; USAID; CEBEMO/MEMISA; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Mac Arthur Foundation; CARE India; CESVI; Engender Health Society; The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) & Dubai Port World (DP World), Chennai.


    • • SKOCH Challenger Award for Social Inclusion, 2017.
    • • Polestar Award for Social Impact, 2017.
    • • Member of National Health Mission-TN-State NGO selection committee, 2017.
    • • ALL Grassroots Women of the Decade Achievers Award, 2014.
    • • Peaks Achievers Award - National Integrity Cultural Academy, 2009.
    • • Certificate of Honour by Govt. Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, 2008 .
    • • Member of National AIDS Council & Working Group for Youth and Gender, 2005.
    • • Rajiv Gandhi Rashtriya Ekta award, National Awareness Forum, 2004 .
    • • State Award "Best Social worker in HIV/AIDS for the year, 2003.
    • • Nehru Yuva Kendra State Award for DESH for Youth, 2003 .

Dr. Manmohan Singh: “There is a saying that no power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. The pioneering work undertaken by DESH points to the immense potential that exists in mobilizing local communities in social health education and in prevention of dreadful diseases like AIDS. … outstanding work … since its inception.”

WHAT WE DO – Social Health Education for Public Health

Information alone will not translate to change in behaviour. DESH lays maximum emphasis on the "self-empowerment model" which is the crucial component in bringing about an attitudinal change and behaviour modification. This includes training in life-skills to motivate people make informed decisions to protect their health. It underlines the power of positive assertion and the strength to say "NO" to unhealthy influences. The outcome of the first two phases would be a group of informed and empowered people who will be able to form powerful action groups to collectively work for the community in the third phase. Accordingly the programs are implemented in three phases, as follows:

SHE (Social Health Education) programs – Three phases:

  1. Information and Awareness
    Provide Facts; Remove Myths and Misconceptions
  2. Empowerment with Accountability
    Minimize At-Risk Behaviour; Maximize Responsible Behaviour
  3. Collective / Community Action
    Involve Individuals and Groups; Facilitate a Movement



DESH has reached out directly to 3,226,328 persons and indirectly to several millions in communities spread in 21 States and 2 Union Territories.