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“I can hardly manage to get up from bed in the morning, but work is important, otherwise all four of my children will have to hungry,” says a very weak Satish somehow ventures out of his house everyday in search of work for survival and sustenance of his whole family.
Satish’s family is just one of the hundreds in Kalahandi, for whom life has become a daily struggle. Living in extreme poverty and cut-off from the most basic amenities like safe water, healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities due to the remoteness of the villages, the tribal populace of Kalahandi has been suffering for generations. To add to their woes are the socio-political conflicts that hamper their already hard lives.
The decadent state of health services in Kalahandi came to light when the image of Dana Majhi carrying his wife’s dead body was splashed across all media outlets. The lack of clean drinking water seems to be one of the major causes that have been forcing the villagers to consume water from contaminated sources, leading to various illnesses. Large distances, often blocked by water bodies, to the primary health centres from the villages is another factor which hinders the sick from availing medical services. As a result, for many agonizing years, the tribals have been losing their lives to preventable diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, chronic illness and cerebral malaria.
To address some of these issues, Smile Foundation initiated its mobile hospital programme Smile on Wheels in 41 villages of Kalahandi and has been providing doorstep healthcare facilities to the villagers at their doorsteps for over a year now. The results have been encouraging – more and more women have taken precedence in bringing their children for treatment and check-ups to the Smile on Wheels, incidents of institutionalized delivery are rising, leading to a drop in the otherwise surging infant and maternal mortality rates. Regular counseling sessions on nutrition, family planning, communicable diseases and other vital health issues have ensured that families are becoming more aware and encouraged to adopt a health-seeking behaviour.
This is a small yet significant beginning for Kalahandi. But the problem does not end here. Unfortunately in our country, those with the greatest need of healthcare services have the greatest difficulty in accessing them. There are thousands of remote villages and cut-off rural areas like Kalahandi where millions of helpless people like Dana Majhi have to struggle every day only to get access to the most basic of amenities. A mobile hospital is an effective way to address the challenges of mobility, affordability, accessibility, availability and awareness of healthcare for the remote rural communities of India. Smile on Wheels is an attempt by Smile Foundation in this direction.
Health is hope. Help us take healthcare to the remotest corners of India and give them the hope of a better life!
615585 people received healthcare services through 39 operational projects in 585 remote villages and slums
Over 70% of the total beneficiaries covered in the reporting period were women and children
5095 school going children benefitted from School Health Programme
463 multi-specialty camps were conducted in urban slums and rural village, which benefitted 31,648 people