Healthcare at doorsteps for urban poor through mobile health vans
Gurugram, 25 July 2019: Pushpa a daily wager working at construction sites of Gurugram is happy that she does not have to miss a day of pay to attend to her family’s medical needs. The doctor literally comes to her doorstep, bi-monthly to cater to the healthcare demands of her family and community.
Similarly, Janak Kaur, 76, a resident of Kalyanpuri, has been regularly availing services of the Noida healthcare van for two years to get free treatment for diabetes. This includes regular health-checks, medication and consultation.
“With the doctors coming right our doorstep, life has become so much easier. My blood sugar and blood pressure levels are in control, taking care of other health parameters,” she said.
Ericsson with Smile Foundation has launched five mobile hospitals to cater to the needs of the underprivileged communities in the urban villages of Noida, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru.
Access to medical or healthcare and its costs are two big factors that push poor communities deeper into poverty. For many even a manageable illness or healthcare issues would become a life inhibiting challenges.
Out-of-pocket health expenses drove 55 million Indians–more than the population of South Korea, Spain or Kenya–into poverty in 2017, and of these, 38 million (69%) were impoverished by expenditure on medicines alone, according to a study released by Public health Foundation of India in 2018. The study also showed that about 68% of the Indian population had limited or no access to essential medicines.
“The project was first launched in 2015 to address the primary healthcare needs of daily wage earners living in urban underprivileged communities. Looking at the success achieved by the programme, Ericsson extended the services to Mumbai in April 2016 and more recently to Pune in January 2019,” said Amitabh Ray, MD, Ericsson India Global Services.
“Since 2015, we have already catered to over 3 lac patients in need of healthcare. In the near future, we plan to strengthen the mobile medical unit services to the inaccessible population and thereby contribute towards bridging the access and equity gap in our Healthcare system,” he said.
“Working with poor and underprivileged communities, we see the day to day struggles, particularly the daily wage workers and their families undergo. The partnership with Ericsson therefore comes as a critical initiative to address the gap that exists in terms of healthcare needs and its availability,” said Santanu Mishra, co-founder and executive trustee at Smile Foundation.
“This free-of-cost door step service is our effort to reduce out of pocket expenses for the underserved communities, thereby helping them allocates their resources to other critical needs like food and education,” he said.
The community outreach is an important part of this initiative as this inculcates health seeking behavior in the community. As part of the programme, doctors and paramedics often hold awareness sessions on lifestyle diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, importance of nutrition and sanitation among other things.
Smile Foundation runs 40 fully functional medical vans catering to the health care needs of poor communities in various state of India and hopes to add at least 40 more in the coming two years.
What is Smile on Wheels?
The Smile on Wheels van provides access to medicine and healthcare to the underprivileged through outpatient sessions undertaken by the onboard Doctor, Nurse, and Pharmacist. The Van treats patients and provides pathological services and Information Education Communication activities to promote healthy living habits and tackle chronic diseases. For patients with requirements for more advanced treatment the Van provides referrals to Hospitals in the region.
Each Mobile Medical Unit provides its services in 20 different slum locations with fortnightly visits at each. On a monthly basis, each van sees a footfall of 1300 patients. In addition to the services provided at the Mobile Medical Unit, the implementation team carries out monthly IEC activities in communities and nearby schools to generate awareness on health, hygiene, nutrition and any other prevalent diseases. The Van also provided critical service of early detection and access to proper medical treatment during malaria and dengue outbreaks during monsoon months.
Over 3.4 Lakh beneficiaries have benefitted from the Smile on Wheels intervention and nearly 70% of these beneficiaries are women and children. 10, 500 + patients suffering from Diabetes are receiving regular medical treatment and medicines from the Mobile Medical Unit service.
About Smile Foundation:
Smile Foundation is a national level development organisation reaching out to more than 600,000 underprivileged children, youth and women directly every year through more than 250 welfare projects on subjects such as education, healthcare, youth employability, and women empowerment across 25 states of India. Adopting a life cycle approach of development, Smile Foundation focuses its interventions on children, their families and the community.
For press queries contact:
Smile Foundation: Jaya Shroff
Email Id: [email protected]