( March 13, 2020 )
NEW DELHI, MARCH 13 : With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring coronavirus as a pandemic, the underprivileged in India like domestic helps and drivers are at higher risk due to a lack of knowledge and weak access to health care.
Keeping the challenge in mind, Smile Foundation has created visual aids to explain what the virus is, how it spreads and preventive measures. The organisation has decided to share basic hygiene tips with people like washing hands frequently, avoiding social gatherings and seeking early medical care if one experiences fever, cough or difficulty in breathing.
For this purpose, the organisation has also created Smile on Wheels healthcare vans that travel across slum areas to create awareness against the spread of the coronavirus. "Poor urban settlements are extremely vulnerable as the residents are constantly on the move, often traveling within settlements, between cities and rural homes," Dr K.S. Eswar, doctor from a healthcare van told IANS.
"A lot of them work as caregivers and domestic workers in households interacting with people, particularly with a history of foreign travel. We are using handmade charts depicting preventive measures that can be undertaken for effective communications with the residents," he added. Volunteers from local universities are also supporting the initiative to spread awareness on the preventive measures.
Project Smile on Wheels (SoW) is a flagship initiative of Smile Foundation that has successfully benefited more than 10 lakh children and families with a special focus on children and women, in urban slums and remote rural areas.
Satnam Singh, Head Health Initiatives at Smile Foundation said, " With our Smile on Wheels initiative, we are increasing awareness amidst people by sharing basic information about the disease through our 39 mobile vans that reach close to 3,000 patients everyday across 23 states in India." Over 70 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in India. Even a three-year-old has tested positive in Kerala, who had a travel history to Italy with his parents. The coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December last year in Wuhan city of China. The disease has affected more than 100 countries and has been declared a global pandemic by the WHO.