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India’s ‘Doctor On Wheels’ movement to treat Covid-19 patients now reaches Uttar Pradesh

'Doctor on Wheels' inaugurated in Delhi for taking healthcare facilities to villages in Uttar Pradesh (Pics: Courtesy Twitter/@mssirsa)

In the face of critical times, individuals and organisations need to pool in their resources and expertise and doing that for helping Covid-19 affected patients are DoctCo, a start-up; the Lung Care Foundation and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). Together they will through their combined effort provide medical facilities for Covid patients in rural areas.

Called the “Doctors On Wheels” service, it is a bus that will travel to the western Uttar Pradesh villages in a span of next three months. The objective is to provide free medical consultations and medicines for Covid patients.

On board of this mobile healthcare unit will be one and two paramedics, and the bus intends to cover a massive 10 lakh people every month.

The equipment in the bus includes thermal scanners, oximeters, ECG machines and other medical devices. While medical screening will be done on the bus by the staff with the help of the equipment, basic medication too will be prescribed for those with early Covid symptoms, or are suspected of being infected with the virus.

Harmeet Singh Kalka, the DSGMC general secretary talking to ndtv.com said: "We will be helping out by replenishing medical supplies and assisting them with any other need. It is a humongous task to cover so many villages and reach out to lakhs of people but the Gurudwara Committee has always been at the forefront in helping people in this pandemic and we will continue to do so.”

Nimith Agrawal, the founder of DoctCo talking about this collaboration said: "DoctCo is an early-stage start-up working in small towns to provide accessible healthcare. Since we 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 idea of taking the healthcare services right to the doorstep of the people, Agrawal said, came from the Prime Minister’s call to do so. “"Our Prime Minister says 'Jahaan bimaari vahaan ilaaj (treatment must be where the disease is)', so we came up with this mobile system.”

Agrawal also added that 10 more such buses are planned to cover the hilly regions of Uttarakhand Himachal Pradesh.

Sharing other details of this initiative, Rajeev Khurana, Founder Trustee of the LungCare Foundation said: "We want the medicines to reach people instead of people going around hunting for them. We have created kits with basic medicines — like 30 Paracetamol tablets, 10 Doxycycline tablets and 5 Ivermectin tablets. The kit also contains instructions about when and how these medicines are to be taken.”

He added that 4,100 such kits were stored on the bus and ready to be distributed.

There is also a provision for specialised consultation on-board the bus. "In case there are advanced problems then the doctor on the bus can virtually connect the patient to super specialists at Lung Care Foundation for teleconsultations. The patient can then be guided about when and how to approach the nearest hospital," Khurana disclosed.

Kolkata’s vaccine on wheels

Last week, in a bid to reach out to people and vaccinate them against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a ‘vaccine on wheels’ initiative was launched in Kolkata. It was inaugurated at Posta Bazaar, the State Capital’s largest wholesale market of vegetables and groceries, by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

To take the vaccination process directly to the people, a bus was converted into a Covid vaccination centre. This mobile vaccination centre will travel to different markets of Kolkata to vaccinate priority groups, including vegetable and fish sellers. The basic idea is to help those who are unable to go for vaccination, leaving their businesses for hours.

Also read: Mobile vaccination centre launched in Kolkata to inoculate people for Covid-19

Doctor reaches out to patients in Bengaluru

In South too, there have been initiatives to bring healthcare closer to the people. Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi of Bengaluru, steers a mobile clinic, whose wheels turn at 10 every morning.

Working 12 hours, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Covid clinic, Hebbi rests for just two hours and is he is ready to take care of patients who are either alone or can’t travel to hospitals, including senior citizens, and people with mild-Coronavirus symptoms.

The mobile clinic came into being 11 years ago, that is much before the pandemic. In those days, Hebbi would use the vehicle to reach patients in need of medical assistance only on weekends. The lockdown saw the number of calls asking for medical help reach stratospheric levels. At the time the "good doctor" made a decision. He completely overhauled his work schedule.

Also read: Bengaluru's "good doctor" reaches out to Covid-19 patients on wheels

Medical advice at home

Last month, the Puducherry Health Department introduced “Doctor on Wheels” for the care of the large number of home quarantined Covid-19 patients in Puducherry.

Due to an increase in the Coronavirus affected people, a number of positive patients were advised home quarantined. Keeping in mind that the health needs of such patients cannot be neglected and have to be given due importance, the Puducherry Health Department introduced help via 104 helpline number.

When home quarantined patient calls 104 helpline number with any distress, instead of giving medical advice over the phone, now a medical team is being sent to their door step and patient's health status is being accessed and treated there itself. If needed patient is shifted to hospital for further management with the help of ambulance, said the Health Secretary Dr. T. Arun in a statement.