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Mobility in Heathcare: Need of the Hour...

One in every six children does not get vaccinated. One in every five children suffers from preventable diseases. Around half a million children do not get to see their first birthday.

These are just a few eye openers, going by the available statistics on healthcare scenario in India.

Although healthcare is as prominent as education in Smile Foundation agendas, some two years back we gave a serious thought to it, once again.

It was found out that there are three factors behind a major section of our population being deprived of basic healthcare. These are lack of proper health awareness, not being able to afford even the minimum cost, and lack of accessibility to healthcare facilities.

SMILE came up with a one-stop solution to the above-mentioned urgency, in a humble way. The objective was simple – taking affordable healthcare to the needy population. But the model had to be different – taking the best available yet affordable medical services from urban centres to the rural areas and urban slums on a regular basis. It gave rise to making a well-equipped healthcare unit comprising of doctors, paramedics, medicines, medical equipments and awareness facilities mobile.

Thus Smile on Wheels took birth in June 2006, with five mobile hospitals in as many states, such as Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. The initial five projects are covering a 1.5 lakh underprivileged people across 249 villages with population of 7.5 lakh.

The success of the first phase gave way to supports from all quarters. Smile on Wheels covered the urban slums in Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai under the second phase with one project in each city fully operational now.

The needy people of Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Delhi (second project) are waiting for Smile on Wheels in the next lot. Going by the encouragement from all around, Smile Foundation aims to run 30 Smile on Wheels projects across India in coming one year.

It would be apt quote Ms. Renuka Chowdhury, Minister of State for Women & Child Development - “Mobility of healthcare for the underprivileged is the need of hour. Smile Foundation has understood this need and should be complemented for its efforts in this direction.”

India is projected to be the next healthcare destination in the world, meaning voluminous business for the industry. It would be heartening to see corporate, development organisations and government alike acting for the lowest strata of our country, for whom buying even a ‘Vicks’ tablet is a luxury.

Smile on Wheels is just an attempt.