SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society), a leading humanitarian organisation and Grace Cancer Foundation have come together to start a unique initiative, #Healthcareonwheels. Through this, the organisations are dedicated to provide medical bus services to those affected by a wave of sequential disasters in 24 North Paraganas, 24 South Parganas and East Medinipur districts of West Bengal. A dedicated of team of doctors and health care volunteers have been assigned for the initiative who will be traveling to these locations on a bus as a part of the Cyclone Amphan response.
The mobile bus has state-of-the-art equipment for conducting comprehensive cancer screening and diagnosis. It is also equipped with advanced facilities for x-ray, ultrasound, bone and blood tests to provide better diagnostics than primary healthcare centres. The medical bus will also provide telemedicine facilities where expert doctors from Hyderabad will be available based on network availability locally.
Commenting on the initiative, Dr Anshu Sharma, Co-Founder, SEEDS, said, “We are committed to reach out to maximum number of people who are the most vulnerable in these difficult times of crisis. We are glad to have come together with Grace Foundation to turn this unique idea into reality and provide healthcare assistance to communities while on the move.”
The initiative aims to reach out to the most vulnerable far-flung communities who are struggling with the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent Cyclone Amphan. #Healthcareonwheels began on June 8, 2020, and the mobile health bus will travel to different villages in these districts until June 20, 2020, providing free medicines and doctor consultations to the affected people. The aim is to reach out to over 3,000 people for communicable and other non-communicable diseases in the span of 15 days.
One of the doctors, Dr Motika Abhishek while sharing his experience from the ground, said, “We have been here for more than 10 days now and every moment we spend with the community members here leaves us touched, full of gratitude and with satisfaction of being able to help to those struggling to make their ends meet”. He further cites an incidence, “One day an elderly woman who has been suffering from hypertension and diabetics came to us at the camp just to thank us for providing her medicines. It was difficult for her to afford the medicines for past 3 months due to the pandemic followed by Cyclone Amphan”.
Rajiv Lal, Principal Advisor, Grace Foundation said, “West Bengal is hit by two back to back disasters, covid-19 pandemic and devastating Cyclone Amphan, last month leaving millions of people in dire need for medical attention which they may not have easy access to. We have conducted 12 medical camps in these districts as the disaster has not only taken away people’s homes but also exposed them to highly contagious diseases. We are happy to have collaborated with SEEDS for this unique initiative and be able to monitor health of communities in these remote areas, diagnose them and administer medication where needed.
Increasing active cases of Covid-19, followed by cyclone Amphan, had a devastating effect on rural communities in the interior regions of West Bengal. While the relief effort continues on the ground, it is necessary to create long-term resilience among vulnerable communities and helping them to #BuildBackBetter. During such uncertain times, where people are not sure whether to seek refuge or to pay heed to their body ailments, the mobile bus service equipped with medication, facilities and qualified doctors will help in treating people with the much-needed care.