Reaching the Unreached

 CSR: Healthcare on wheels: Reaching the unreached with urgent health needs

The age old maxim ‘health is wealth’ may not hold true for millions of Indians who live below poverty line (BPL) in urban and rural areas. Healthcare has turned expensive and with rising population and prosperity, there has been a spurt in communicable and lifestyle diseases. The underprivileged aren’t financially equipped to take care of their health. India ranks at 154 in a list of 195 countries on a range of health indicators and has the third highest child mortality rate among SAARC countries. The healthcare industry is estimated to grow from $81.3 billion in 2013 by 17% in 2020. Will this benefit the underprivileged? We doubt!

The government allocates funds for the healthcare sector every fiscal, but the allocation is very less compared to those spent by countries like China and US. Besides, majority of healthcare professionals leave rural areas and concentrate themselves in lucrative urban areas. India has less than 1 doctor per 1000 population, which is fewer than in developed nations. To add to the shortcoming is the lack of a robust infrastructure to cater to the growing healthcare demand. Rural areas that comprise 70% of India’s population have no or limited access to hospitals and clinics. Condition of government primary healthcare facilities is deplorable both in urban and rural regions.

The Participation for a Healthier India

The need of the hour is increased participation by both private and public organizations as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Besides, the empowered can further empower their fellow underprivileged citizens. Through their collective partaking, they can assist in nation building, alleviate the healthcare gap, and empower India from her grassroots.

Smile Foundation has been creating avenues for CSR partnership, partnering with organizations to change the healthcare landscape of India. The NGO has been proactively involved in a multitude of activities directed towards economical, social, and moral upliftment of the underprivileged and downtrodden in India, especially in the areas of education, healthcare, women empowerment, and skill development. Organizations and empowered citizens can join hands with Smile in building a healthier India, a stronger India.

Smile on Wheels (Mobile Hospital for the Underprivileged)

As aforementioned there has been a rise of lifestyle and communicable diseases in India. Lack of education and thereby lack of awareness is one of the key reasons why urban slum dwellers suffer from adverse health conditions. The same applies with the rural underprivileged sections of the society. As most of them are dependent on daily wage for their livelihood, they rather prefer not to miss the day’s wage. Thus any ailment they suffer from remains unaddressed and their health conditions deteriorate further.

Smile on Wheels is a mobile hospital started by Smile Foundation to make quality healthcare services available at their doorstep in both rural and urban areas. Spreading awareness about the many diseases and healthcare issues is also part of the SoW initiative. Smile has been spreading smiles amongst lakhs of the underprivileged across the length and breadth of India, empowering them to live better, healthier lives.

Building hospitals and engaging doctors for the underprivileged in every region of India where healthcare facilities aren’t available is a ‘near impossible’ task! Even if it has to happen, it may take years with massive investment. Mobile healthcare services delivery system is the most practical mechanism in such a scenario. The unique Smile on Wheels program addresses problems of mobility, accessibility and availability of primary healthcare. The program specially focuses on children and women, in urban slums and remote rural areas. Remedies for child malnutrition, improved health profile of rural and urban underprivileged are other focus areas of the Smile on Wheels program.

Smile on Wheels Facilities

The Smile on Wheels mobile health van is equipped with a number of advanced facilities and medicines for diagnosis of ailments and treatment. Each van is backed by an expert and well-trained team of doctors and para-medical staff, who are experienced to look into the specific health care needs of each patient. In emergency cases, it functions as a referral clinic and an ambulance. Stationed in an urban centre, usually with a static hospital, it also acts like a referral medical centre.

Services offered in Smile on Wheels include OPD, ante-natal/post-natal services, identification of difficult pregnancy and referral for institutional care, immunizations, minor surgery, BP examination, X-ray, ECG, first aid, distribution of Iron folic tablets, Vit-A prophylaxis, and treatment of mal-nutrient cases, and the list goes on.

Smile Foundation involves volunteers to ensure that those suffering from ailments including young mothers and children visit the mobile hospital.

The Impact

Under the Smile on Wheels program, Smile Foundation has been able to facilitate healthier lives of over 10 lakh individuals including women and children in 855 remotest rural villages and slums across 17 plus states. The count is only increasing by the day. On an average, over 250,000 lives are directly benefitted in a year through multiple projects in association with CSR partners across India.

In 2017 alone, 580,207 people received healthcare services through 39 operational projects in 625 remote villages and slums. 3,010 children were benefitted from school health programs aimed at building a health seeking next generation. 66% of the total beneficiaries covered in the reporting period were women. Besides, 114 multi-specialty health camps met the immediate healthcare needs of 21,792 people.

The Smile on Wheels team also spreads awareness about sanitation and hygiene issues, the results of which have been observed.

 

Conclusion

CSR strategies focusing on the role of public private partnerships to cater to the healthcare needs of the society can go a long way in building a healthier India fast. The CSR partnership for further spreading happiness through the Smile on Wheels program has helped in effectively taking healthcare services to the door steps of the underprivileged communities the big way. With the support of more corporate establishments and empowered citizens taking part in this initiative, India, in no time will be self sufficient on health aspects.

To know about the Smile On Wheels program log in to http://www.smilefoundationindia.org/smile_on_wheels.html

To partner with us, please contact Swatantra Gupta at 9999204061, or write to cp@smilefoundationindia.org

 

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Author

Satnam Singh

National Manager-Programme, Smile Foundation

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