Thousands of villagers in rural Madhya Pradesh wait every day for a small mobile medical van to visit their area. That’s their only hope for affordable healthcare services. Dr Gohe, the only doctor in the area, is catering to several villages and shares his experiences of healing people with limited resources.
Equal, affordable and quality health service is still a distant dream for the people of India. Madhya Pradesh is considered as one of the poorest states as far as the health scenario of the state is concerned. The infant mortality rate is 47, which is the highest among all Indian states, the maternal mortality rate is 173 which is also very high. Immunization programme reaches only 50.02 percent in rural areas of MP in 2016. The health index released by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog placed Madhya Pradesh at 17th position among 21 larger states.
In the remote areas of districts Mandla, Dindori and Jabalpur, hospitals and other health services are not easily accessible for the people. It signifies less attention has been given to rural health services.
Dr. Lalit Gohe is the in-charge of Deen Dayal Chalit Aspatal (Mobile Medical) of Niwas unit. Deen Dayal mobile medical unit programme was launched by the Public and Family Welfare Department of Madhya Pradesh state government in 2006. It was started mainly because of the government’s realization that health service is not accessible to all the people of the state.
The goal of the programme is to improve the availability of quality health service, especially in tribal areas. Dr. Lalit Gohe visits different villages of Niwas development block in a medical van equipped with a nurse, a lab technician, a driver, necessary appliance, and medicines. He provides treatment to the patients of remote areas, forest and tribal villages. Medicines are distributed at free of cost. He treats more than 60 patients every day.
A day in the life of a mobile hospital
Dr Gohe’s profession requires a disciplined lifestyle. His typical working day starts with punching his thumb in the biometric attendance system. After registering the attendance his journey begins along with the staffs which cover 3-4 villages every day. His root plans are preplanned for the whole month.
With the limited resources available in the vehicle, sometimes he finds it difficult to treat people. They can not carry out many tests due to the lack of tools. Medicines are also very limited in their store. The mobile medical does not have adequate resources to treat the severely ill patient. Most of the patients he finds suffer from body ache, fever, cold, skin disease, constipation, etc.
Since he repeats his visit to a certain village only after 15-20 days, therefore, it is not possible for him to follow up each and every case. Sometimes people who are suffering from cancer, TB, heart disease, piles, etc also come for treatment. In such cases, he refers them to the government hospital. He observed that due to poverty, unawareness or negligence of the family members they can not access quality health services.
“It would be very beneficial for the public if the medical van is equipped with adequate resources. But we also have to keep in mind that it is not possible to equip this single medical van with so many resources. Establishment and an upgrade of the health infrastructure will be a great solution to bring efficient health service in the rural areas of MP,” Dr Lalit Gohe mentioned.
Making the best out of limited resources
Once he came across a case of a four years old child who was suffering from the Locomotor disability. It was not possible for him to treat the child in the mobile medical. Keen on working for the children, Dr. Gohe took the responsibility to treat the child. Every day, after the working hours, he goes to the child’s home and treats him with physiotherapy and other treatment. Since the child’s family is poverty-stricken, he is providing his service at free of cost and voluntarily.
Dr. Gohe mentioned that the health condition of the people residing in those remote areas is pathetic. Most of the people are illiterate and living under below the poverty line. The awareness of self-care, hygiene and medical services are very less among them. Moreover, due to poverty, they can not afford quality health facilities, which are already hard to access.
Mobile medical is a welfare-oriented approach by the government to provide quality health service to the people. However, health services are not available for all. The medical van visits only a few villages in a day but there are lots of villages with no health services available. People can’t wait for mobile medical to come to their village during their illness.
The urban areas are equipped with quality and accessible health infrastructure but our country is failing to do so in rural areas. The public spending is just over one percent of the GDP, which causes a slow growth of the public health sector.
Private healthcare service is very much focused on urban areas and it is too expensive for the people living under the poverty line. Deen Dayal Chalit Aspatal is a relief for the people of rural areas of Madhya Pradesh. But it can not be a permanent solution. High quality, affordable, accountable and accessible health infrastructure should be established in rural and backward places. It will be a step forward towards the social justice.
Photos: Dibyajyoti Khorel
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