- Doctors on Wheels is an initiative to take healthcare to rural India
- A bus has been converted into mobile medical unit with essential equipment
- The aim is to cover 10 lakh people every month, starting from Uttar Pradesh
New Delhi: “Our Prime Minister says ‘Jahaan bimaari vahaan ilaaj (treatment must be where the disease is)’, so we came up with this mobile system”, said Nimith Agrawal, founder, DoctCo, an early-stage startup working in small towns to provide accessible healthcare. In an initiative to provide medical facilities for COVID patients in rural areas, DoctCo along with the Lung Care Foundation and the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has launched ‘Doctors on Wheels’ service. The mobile medical van will travel to villages of western Uttar Pradesh and provide free medical consultation and medicines to COVID patients.
The ‘Doctors on Wheels’ service, a mobile medical van launched from Delhi’s Bangla Sahib Gurudwara on June 5 (Saturday) has one doctor and two paramedics on board. To begin with, one mobile medical van has been started which aims to cover 10 lakh people in a month.
Talking to NDTV about the initiative, Mr Agrawal said,
Since we (DoctCo) deal with smaller cities we came across places like Aligarh where there is a huge scarcity of doctors around rural areas. We decided to come up with an initiative, in association with the Lung Care Foundation. The bus is equipped with thermal scanners, oximeters, ECG machines, COVID testing kit, rapid test kits and other medical devices which will give real time results. The aim of the bus is to go from village to village, screen people, treat patients and provide medicines.
The Lung Care Foundation has provided 4,100 medicine kits for people with early COVID symptoms, or those who are suspected of being infected with the virus. Explaining the contents of medicine kits, Rajeev Khurana, a founder-trustee of the LungCare Foundation said,
We have created small pouches which contain three types of medicines – 30 Paracetamol tablets, 10 Doxycycline tablets and 5 Ivermectin tablets. The kit also contains a manual on how to take these medicines and what are the symptoms in which we should be in a position to take these medicines. In case there is an advanced problem, then the doctor onboard can connect the patient to experts at Lung Care Foundation. The patient can then be guided about when and how to approach the nearest hospital.
As per the information shared by Mr Agrawal on social media, on day 1, the bus covered four villages and 8,500 people in Aligarh. 150 people were screened and 40 were given medicines. On day 2, the team covered two villages with a collective population of 5,000 people. 250 people with COVID like symptoms were screened and of them 86 were provided medicines. Sharing the struggles from the ground, Mr Agrawal wrote,
We faced an issue of narrow lanes and a lack of information about the initiative in the villages of Bhadurpur and Dorai. Our brave team of doctors and paramedics were determined and they decided to go door-to-door on foot in this extreme heat and treat the patients.
The plan is to launch nine more buses in the coming days and for the same, DoctCo has initiated a fundraiser. 10 buses will reach out to three crore people in western Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in the next three months, said Mr Agrawal.
Talking about the role of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee in this whole initiative, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, President, DSGMC said,
The idea is to cater to rural India where people don’t have access to basic medical facilities. We will be helping by replenishing medical supplies and assisting in any other way. Recently, we provided 400 oxygen concentrators across India. Three ambulance drivers have reached out to us and said that they want to assist on a shift basis for free. Doctors are extending help. We will be meeting everyone on Saturday to decide the further course of action. Parallely, we are assessing the demand in different regions and accordingly working towards expanding resources.
Manjit Singh Aulakh, member, DSGMC is currently in Tarai, Uttar Pradesh, working on the ground, meeting people and helping them. Mr Aulakh is looking after not only Tarai village but the entire Pilibhit belt. He told NDTV that in the last five days, he has distributed 300 medicine kits and 30 oxygen concentrators he had got from Delhi.
Here people are not getting even basic medicines and those available are being sold at a higher price. Ambulances don’t have adequate medical equipment. In the past few days, there have been instances when I visited a house and randomly checked the oxygen levels of the family. Some people had oxygen saturation levels in 70 (as opposed to the ideal minimum oxygen saturation at 92. That is when I set up oxygen concentrators for them, said Mr Aulakh.
Members of DSGMC are assessing the medical needs of people in rural India and working towards addressing them. Amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, which left people running from pillar to post, initiatives like Doctors On Wheels could benefit people living in far-flung areas, away from the avenues to seek help.
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