More than half of Mumbai’s 19 million people live in urban slums, facing overcrowding, inadequate housing, poor hygiene, and lack of safe drinking water and sanitation. Their daily living conditions often lead to widespread infection, disease, dehydration and high levels of malnutrition in children under five.
To reach these desperate families who struggle everyday with extreme poverty and lack of basic health care, AmeriCares India has launched a pilot project to provide critical on-site medical services and free medicines to the people of Mumbai’s Andheri East slums through a mobile medical van.
Working with local stakeholders, community leaders and area healthcare providers, AmeriCares is providing mobile medical vans to bring doctors and free medical assistance on a regular basis (6 days a week) to a dozen locations within the slum communities.
The pilot mobile clinic program was formally inaugurated on January 9, 2011 by Mr. Suresh Shetty, Hon. Health Minister of Maharashtra in conjunction with an introductory health care camp in Andheri East, providing free examinations and medicines to approximately 200 patients in its first day. A team from Sai Deep Pratisthan, an AmeriCares India partner and aid organization that works with the needy, mobilized the local community by creating awareness for the program, helping to organize volunteers conducting a door-to-door campaign to register patients for the program.
“With India’s slum-dwelling population rising each year, the threat of disease transmission in such overcrowded and unsanitary conditions becomes urgent. Diseases like tuberculosis and measles can emerge as major public health threats,” said Christoph Gorder, AmeriCares senior vice president of global programs. “Taking health care directly to this vulnerable population fills a critical need— we saw 700 patients in just the first week of our mobile clinic program.”
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 high blood pressure, 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 follow-up treatments.
AmeriCares India Foundation is registered in India as a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization providing immediate response to emergency medical needs and long-term humanitarian assistance programs. AmeriCares India currently serves 21 states across India and has reached more than 10 million people through 55 affiliate partner organizations.
Since 1991, AmeriCares has delivered more than $48 million worth of life-saving medicines and medical supplies to India in response to disaster situations including the floods in Bihar, the cyclone in West Bengal and the 2004 tsunami.