( November 17, 2017 )
Phulmati is dressed in a bright yellow sari. But its glittery embroidery doesn’t hide the anxiety on her face. As she awaits her turn to see the doctor, the 50-year-old keeps glancing at the sheet of paper in her hand.
Thankfully, she doesn’t have to wait long. Phulmati is able to meet the doctor within ten minutes of her standing in the queue in front of the mobile health van stationed in Noida’s JJ colony slums where she stays. On being told that her hypertension was under control and she should continue with the medicines advised, the smile returns to Phulmati’s face.
Now she can return to work without any worries or lose a day’s wage.
This is the essence of such ‘mobile hospitals’. In a country where the poor must routinely make the difficult choice of giving up a day’s wages to get medical treatment, quick and reliable clinics close to their residences can be true life-changers.
India has a population of 1.21 billion people, of which 833.3 million people live in rural areas, according to 2011 census. Further, about 23 per cent of the population living in major cities and towns lives in slums.
Lack of infrastructure and a cheek-by-jowl existence in urban slums means a majority of these people stay in surroundings where open drains, unhealthy drinking water, lack of sanitary toilets and waste disposal systems increase their risk to infections and disease.
Bringing doctors to their doorsteps not only ensures quality essential healthcare services to underprivileged communities but is also in keeping with India’s efforts towards achieving the sustainable development goal to promote healthy lives and wellbeing for all.
To find more about the realities of running such mobile operations, we got in touch with the Smile Foundation, whose flagship health initiative is the ‘Smile on Wheels’.