Smile Foundation’s ‘Smile on Wheels’ provides accessible healthcare services to the poor
GoBarefoot: There is only one doctor per 1,700 citizens in India while the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates a minimum ratio of 1:1,000. The Union Health Ministry figures claim that there are about 6-6.5 lakh doctors (as of 2013) with reports suggesting that the sector needs an additional 1.54 million doctors and 2.4 million nurses to match the global average.
Furthermore, just 33 percent of Indian health care expenditures in 2012 came from government sources. Of the remaining private spending, around 86 percent was out-of-pocket.
The government’s low spending on healthcare places much of the burden on patients and their families. The situation is worse in rural areas and among low-income households.
One such case is of Razia who lives in Begumpur village of Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Noida. Her father being the sole earning member in a family of five, she doesn’t have the means to access quality healthcare services.
Suffering from swollen ears that ached, Razia visited Smile Foundation’s mobile hospital, ‘Smile on Wheels’. She was diagnosed with Acute Otitis Media, a disease wherein the ears are infected, swollen, and fluid is trapped behind the eardrum, causing pain.
The Smile of Wheels doctor prescribed medicines, followed-up on her, and in no time she was cured.
With a total population of 3,000; the literacy, health, and hygiene rates are very low in the village. To bring healthcare services to areas like Begumpur village, Smile Foundation launched this mobile hospital that provides doorstep healthcare services. A fully equipped GPS enabled mobile van with doctors, lab technicians, pharmacists, and necessary equipment; it visits urban slums & rural areas of India.
It aims to improve the standard of healthcare by providing quality services free of cost. They regularly organise camps to spread awareness about basic healthcare, family planning, and diseases like HIV/AIDS and STIs to adults and has a separate drive to address children.
The programme at present has 23 operational projects in 343 remote villages and urban slums across India, benefitting 3, 19, 000 lives directly every year.