About 68 percent of India’s population resides in rural areas and though India is globally renowned for quality doctors and affordable healthcare, only 2 percent of the doctors in the country cater to rural India. Residents of villages in remote areas are often forced to travel significant distances in order to avail basic medical facilities. Due to lack of resources and requisite awareness about the existing medical facilities, villagers tend to turn towards village ‘quacks’ or alternate sources of medicine, often complicating the condition further.

In such a scenario, quality medical facilities at their doorsteps, seems like a far-fetched dream for the villagers. However, turning this dream to reality is the Mobile Medical Unit or MMU.
Staffed with a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist, a coordinator, a community mobiliser and a driver, the MMU provides invaluable service to those in need of medical attention in the catchment areas of the various IL&FS projects. The MMU is a joint initiative with IL&FS in the lead, in association with Piramal Swasthya, Deepam Educational Society for Health (DESH), Smile Foundation, Ziqitza Healthcare Ltd and the Nalanda Foundation.

The MMU generates awareness on health related issues, targeting to reduce the occurrence of communicable diseases and the expenditure on health. Communities in the catchment areas of IL&FS projects, are getting access to better medical facilities and enhanced sanitation in schools due to the MMUs. Awareness camps on various health topics and prevalent diseases in the area are also conducted for the local community and Government school students on a regular basis. The MMU acts as a bridge between Government health centres and the villagers. It also partners with District Health Systems to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals such as; reducing infant mortality rate (IMR), eradicating Measles-Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and increasing life expectancy.

The first MMU by IL&FS was set up in the catchment area of Chenani Nashri Tunnelway Limited (CNTL) in April 2012. The topography of the catchment area of CNTL is hilly. The lack of proper roads within the village makes commute difficult and absence of medical centres in their villages forces the patients to travel to bigger cities/ nearby towns, which is particularly difficult for ailing senior citizens. Financially most of these patients need support owing to which they are unable to pay medical fees or purchase medicines. The MMU service in CNTL was designed to provide basic medical facilities to patients residing in these remote villages. The MMU visits six different locations on a weekly roster and provides medical check-ups and basic medicines free of cost to the patients.

This model, due to its unique support, was replicated in other project areas, namely the catchment areas of Hazaribagh Ranchi Expressway Limited (HREL), Kiratpur Ner Chowk Expressway Limited (KNCEL), IL&FS Tamil Nadu Power Company Limited (ITPCL) and Barwa Adda Expressway Limited (BAEL). So far, the MMU has benefitted 255,295 people across 289 villages across India.
The objective is to ensure that quality medical facilities are taken to the very doorstep of people in desperate need of medical aid, and to deliver preventive, curative and referral medical health services, and essential primary health care services.

The benefits of MMU are multifold; the direct ones being early detection of diseases, better health and hygiene in the targeted households, and better IMR, MMR and life expectancy rates in the operational villages. As a result, an MMU helps save the villagers in need resources like money and time, owing to better productivity of people due to better health and creates awareness on cleanliness and sanitation.
The programmes in various catchment areas are customised so as to provide maximum benefit to the residents of that area. Field visits are conducted by IL&FS volunteers, followed by focused group discussions. The health challenges are thus identified post analysis of data gathered and secondary data available. These MMUs also provide an opportunity to act as information centers and provide the imperatives of healthy habits and lifestyle. Due to these efforts, an average earning villager is aware of the cause of his ill health and medical expenses. The immunity increasing information also helps in ensuring the villagers, most of whom are daily wagers, to be fitter and hence not miss out on their daily wages.

For example, the Aroghyam programme currently running in ITPCL catchment area focusses on community awareness, and mobilisation for improved health seeking behaviour through rigorous outreach activities. A separate programme called ‘HAPPY’ is currently being run in the same area, which focusses on awareness about sanitation, life skills, substance abuse, mental and emotional well-being of the young adolescents.

IL&FS firmly believes that the aim of any CSR activity should be social and economic inclusion, thereby improving quality of life. Further to this thought, the mobile medical units are attempting to create a rural India with improved health and health seeking behavior; making a real contribution to the lives of people from varying strata of society.

Authored By:
Team Panorama


 


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