To reach desperate families who struggle everyday with poverty and lack of health care in Mumbai’s overcrowded slums, AmeriCares India has launched a mobile clinics program to provide critical on-site medical services and free medicines in the Andheri East slums.
More than half of Mumbai’s population live in slums that occupy only 6% of the city’s total area.
These urban slum dwellers are faced with inadequate housing, poor hygiene and lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.
“Squalid living conditions lead to widespread infection, disease, dehydration and high levels of malnutrition in children under five,” said Dr. Purvish Parikh, managing director of AmeriCares India Foundation. “With India’s slum population rising each year, the situation becomes urgent as airborne diseases like tuberculosis and measles emerge as major public health threats.”
Working with local partners and BSES Hospital, a key supporter of the program, AmeriCares India has equipped mobile medical vans that will bring doctors and free medical assistance on a regular basis to a dozen locations within the slum communities. Sai Deep Pratisthan, an aid organisation that works with the needy, helped to mobilize the local community by creating awareness for the program. Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology and Mandira Charitable Trust provided volunteers to conduct a door-to-door campaign to register patients for the program.
The AmeriCares India program was inaugurated by Mr. Suresh Shetty, Hon. Health Minister of Maharashtra, and was followed by a medical camp at Andheri East.
“Taking health care directly to this vulnerable population fills a critical need. We saw 700 patients in the first week alone through our mobile medical van program, and we expect that number to grow,” said Dr. Parikh.
Each fully-equipped mobile medical van is staffed with a doctor, pharmacy assistant and driver so that the immediate health care needs of the slum dwellers can be assessed and treated, and proper referrals can be made when necessary. Another focus of the mobile medical unit is to identify and care for patients with chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, and to provide them with a continuous supply of free medicines. Electronic health records for all patients will be maintained to monitor the program and to facilitate patient follow-up.
The vans will visit 12 locations every 15 days on pre-specified dates. Medical services will be available six days a week (Monday through Saturday) from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
AmeriCares India currently serves 21 states across India and has reached more than 10 million people through 55 partner organizations.