Mobile healthcare to touch women's lives

Mobile healthcare to touch women's lives

Worthy Cause

Whether one is living in urban areas or the rural ones, women’s health is a prime concern. But there is a widening gap between the two strata which directly impacts the health need of the women too.

 In an effort to bridge this gap, a free Mobile Healthcare unit (MHU) was launched in Delhi  recently. The Naari Jeevan Srot Express, as it is called, is a unique initiative that will connect 15 cities through a bus cruise for the cause of women and girl child health.

An initiative of the Gaudium Foundation, the Srot Express will connect 74 districts and 250 locations in Northern India, thereby reaching out to more people in far flung areas across the country and touching more than 9.5 crore people. The bus will hold 18 medical camps in Delhi and cover multiple villages in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Jammu.

The Express was flagged off from the City at an event, also attended by cricketer Shikhar Dhawan, by Dr Sushma Dureja, Deputy Commissioner (AH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under the Naari Jeevan Srot program. To date it has organised around 29 camps and is presently in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, after covering districts like Solan, Sirmaur, Chamba, Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Una, and more than 5,000 people have been screened for various health problems.

A key aspect of the program is to counter under-reporting of illnesses among women and ensure access to quality services. Apart from mapping the magnitude of gynaecological diseases among women and sensitising healthcare professionals about the same, the campaign will also look for probable solutions and include treatment modalities, right from risk identification and analysis to preventive strategies, diagnosis and medication, treatment or surgery, if required.

The mobile unit will also provide free medicines, iron supplements, diet counselling besides full body check-up and body composition analysis.“The purpose of the Naari Jeevan Srot Express is to support the efforts of the government to reduce maternal deaths and promote well-being of the girl child. Though there has been considerable progress on the twin fronts of newborn and reproductive health, but still a lot needs to be done,” said Dr Manika Khanna, founder and Principal consultant, Gaudium Foundation.

Dr Alok Bhandari, president, Indian Medical Association said, “The express will travel more than 10,000 km and help to conduct 200 medical camps and 400 customised health skits (nukkad nataks). The campaign will bust myths, and elucidate the enigma around women’s infertility diseases in the country, and more importantly awaken them to the realities of their holistic health through street plays, health camps and public education material.”

He said, “Major causes of maternal morbidity and mortality were due to haemorrhage, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, and obstructed labour. Additionally, lack of access to skilled medical care during childbirth, the travel distance to the nearest clinic to receive proper care, number of prior births, barriers to accessing prenatal medical care and poor infrastructure also contributed significantly to maternal deaths.” Dr Manika Khanna, added, “Currently, women in India face a multitude of health problems some of which becomes social stigma for them like infertility, rising incidents of reproductive illnesses in young women and conditions associated with infertility such as Polycystic Ovarian Disease & Genital TB, which is increasingly affecting women even in their teens. This calls for large-scale initiatives that not only connect people from all walks of life but also engage them through a unique awareness drive.”

According to the latest data from the Registrar General, India’s maternal mortality rate (MMR), or the rate of deaths among women during or after pregnancy stood at 178 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010-12 and is behind the target of 103 deaths per live births to be achieved by 2015 under the United Nations-mandated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).