The health care sector in India has been for long lying in shambles owing to the heavy burden of patients, poor infrastructure and a not so enough government funding of healthcare initiatives thus leading to high out of pocket expenditure for the public. Adding to the woes the problems of accessibility, affordability and quality remain some of the key challenges in the Indian health scenario. As recommended by the World Health Organization the accepted norm for public spending on healthcare is 2.5-5.0 % of GDP, whereas India’s public healthcare funding remains at 1.2 % of GDP in the year 2017-18.

Also, countries like Bangladesh, despite having a lower public health spending budget than ours have a much lower infant mortality rate. So clearly the problem is not just with resource allocation.  Government healthcare spending in India could be more effective if larger fund allocation for healthcare is supplemented with effective and innovative interventions which aim to accomplish global standards specifically in rural and inaccessible areas.

 

Rural Healthcare And The Need For Mobile Medical Vans

Nearly two-thirds of the population of the country still resides in rural areas and an astounding 80% of the specialists serve in the urban areas. Despite the presence of primary health centers and sub-centers in such areas, it is seen that due to the lack of skilled human resource and the unwillingness of doctors to serve in such regions there is no access to affordable health care. Since the demands and needs of the rural health sector vary in a great deal from the urban, the presence of specialized schemes like National Rural Health Mission is a necessity.

Despite notable gains in areawise coverage, specifically when India is moving ahead towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, reaching populations in the most remote areas remains a constant challenge. Rural remote areas are areas of low population density especially in the mountainous regions such as Uttarakhand, which implies that the distance between the people is too much. This geographical fact itself multiplies the barriers to healthcare services many folds. In addition to the distance problem, the lack of healthcare manpower in rural areas is a big problem. A factor that cannot be fixed with money. So, even though we recognize a great need for healthcare in rural areas, simply pouring money into these regions is not the complete answer.

Mobile Medical Units can be a key service strategy to reach the vulnerable and marginalized populations living in remote, difficult areas due to geographical barriers.

 

Sewa Aarogyam, our mobile medical van in Uttarakhand is an initiative to provide mobile medical health services to 250 villages of Rudraprayag and Chamoli, with its 24 diagnostic centers. Targeting the area population of almost 1,00,000 we aim to bring substantial impact in the lives of as many as possible.

Sewa Aarogyam representative treating a Bhutiya tribal woman

Objectives of the program

  • Bring affordable and accessible healthcare to the rural community
  • Provide diagnostic consultation and dispense medicines on the spot for common ailments and refer to the hospital in case of higher treatment.
  • Providing facilities to pregnant women for postnatal and antenatal check-ups.
  • Raise awareness about preventive health care including family planning, communicable and other diseases. Using audiovisual aids and LED screen in the van, relevant educational films would be shown in villages.
  • Integrate patients into existing social services and health care systems through referrals.

 

Services available on SMHV

  1. Physician consultation including advice on health, hygiene and sanitation
  2. Awareness sessions on safe deliveries, child care, and, nutrition support
  3. Pathology: Over 100 high accuracy tests for blood and urine
  4. Radiology: X- Ray with high-frequency advanced CR System
  5. Cardiology: Advance Electrocardiogram.
  6. Pharmacy: Medicines – free or at minimal cost

 

Since it’s inception about a month back, Sewa Arogyam has been moving around remote areas of Rudraprayag and Chamoli, holding regular camps in villages, working when temperatures have dropped as low as -6 degrees in these harsh Himalayan winters in the upper regions. The team has been offering door to door consultations, free medicines and tests at bare minimum charges and thus bringing about changes where it should be, at the grassroots.

Success Stories

Healing the little one – Nandini from Chauriya

It is the blessings of the people who we serve that inspire and motivate us to do better and to reach out to more. In one such instance in Chauriya village of Rudraprayag, Nandini, a little girl, who while playing got injured, bruised her arm and was bleeding profusely. The distance between her village and the nearest health center was 60 km. But due to the presence of Sewa Arogyam, our mobile health vehicle in the area, the girl was rushed for treatment and was immediately treated by the health workers. It is seen many times that in the absence of first aid treatment many patients lose their lives or suffer from excessive bleeding. In providing essential first aid in such regions, we believe that a lot of damage that comes with lack of primary treatment to a patient can be mitigated.

 

Treating beyond Prejudices –  Bhavani Dutt from Tapovan

Sewa, is not a duty, it’s a shared sentiment of service that one has towards a fellow human, free from prejudices and notions. An elderly resident of Tapovan area had been suffering from Buerger disease, a condition often associated with excessive smoking which results in inflammation and thrombosis in small and medium-sized blood vessels, typically in the legs and leading to gangrene. Our team headed by Dr Narayan Dutt went to his home after the health camp, where they conducted the necessary tests and briefed him about the process of surgery needed to eradicate the infection. In a state of neglect and lack of awareness Bhavani Ji has been suffering from this condition without knowing what to do and ignoring the same due to the lack of financial resources. With Sewa Aarogyam, we pledge to ensure handholding till successful completion of the surgery and also provide him post-surgery care.

 

With qualified doctors, medical practitioners, lab technicians and dedicated volunteers the dream of providing quality and affordable medical care to these far-flung areas is becoming a reality for us and with the help of like-minded service oriented donors, we hope to make this initiative bigger and better, reaching beyond these two districts. If you feel inspired to serve and want to contribute, feel free to reach out to us. You can donate, enroll as volunteers or simply provide your expertise in case you have experience in the health sector or the medical field.