The pandemic has pushed millions of people into poverty. It has also increased the inequalities between the different sections. People have been deprived of food, necessary medicines, shelter, and care. Inequality in the health sector in India has remained a major concern and needs the immediate attention of all stakeholders. The pandemic has pushed India, backwards in terms of accessibility and affordability.
In these trying times, organizations like Smile Foundation have been able to provide relief to people living in remote areas and urban slums through its healthcare unit Smile on Wheels. While the rest of the world was advised to remain indoors Doctors, nurses, healthcare volunteers came out to take healthcare to the doorsteps of those who needed it the most. On this Nation Health Day, here are some stories of the people who came forward to aid the most vulnerable.
Dr. Neelabh, Smile on Wheels, Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh
“Working for the good health of others means being there for them at their most vulnerable times.
Recently, as the state governments allowed migrants to travel back to their hometowns, Rajveer and Rajnandini finally returned home from Punjab with their parents. Since then, they had been quarantined inside their home. With a team of doctors, nurses and health workers, we reached them through our doorstep medical unit of Smile on Wheels and took every measure to help them normalize into living in isolation. From helping them understand the importance of hand-washing to showing them the use of the Aarogya Setu app, we helped them get through this period of uncertainty without losing hope.
At every step of this process, I felt more and more humbled towards my profession, as it teaches me to take care of people in a holistic way.”
Swapna, Community Mobilizer, SoW, Hyderabad
“I was raised to believe that extending care to those who need it the most is the biggest act of kindness. I have always believed in it with all my heart. As a result, my biggest desire was to become a doctor someday. During the course of achieving my dream, I found an opportunity to work in close contact with the community. I faced the harsh reality and realized that working as a doctor would not fulfill the true purpose of my life. Sure, I wanted to help people in all ways possible…but feeling the pain of those who struggle every day to pay the fees for a doctor changed my perspective towards life. I met people who decided to suffer in silence, instead of giving away their precious little daily wage that helps to feed a family of five members. Thus, I decided that these were the people who needed me the most. I started visiting remote communities in far-reached rural areas and inaccessible slums. I listened to their problems and started extending help. During the pandemic my job was to mobilize such people and sensitize them into seeking proper healthcare provided free of cost through the medical unit of Smile on Wheels. I regularly communicate and keep a tab on the health and well-being of almost all the people of the community.
Supriya A. (Ex student, STeP student, Bengaluru)
“ At the end of the day, when I count the number of people I could help, it gives me the greatest satisfaction I could have achieved. So now when someone asks me- “What do you do?”, I reply with pride- “My job is to help people!”
I was taking care of my father on his death bed when I realized our society needs more nurses to extend care to the patients who are suffering the most.
But after my father passed away, our family’s financial conditions had dipped down to a new low. Every day, we were faced with the basic question- Where will the next meal come from? I knew I needed to look for a job immediately even though I had further plans to study and become a Nurse.
While the Covid had definitely affected society and the world’s economy at large, I viewed it as an opportunity to train with Smile’s Twin e-Learning Program and work with the healthcare community to support the employee shortage that the country had been facing.
After my training completed, I was hired as a Patient Caretaker into a health facility- ‘Santhwana’. I began work with utmost enthusiasm because I was now able to support my family also while fulfilling my dream.”
More than 1 lakh people were reached through tele-counseling through Smile Foundation initiative, Baton Baton Mein Sehat. It is a telephonic and digital Health Awareness Initiative providing counseling on physical as well as mental wellbeing to the most vulnerable during COVID-19. More than 1 million people were reached through the Health Cannot Wait campaign.