In India, about 70% of expenditure on health is borne by the patients. As a result, every year, 60 million people slip into poverty because of out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) on health. As per World Health Organisation, “Primary healthcare is a whole-of-society approach to health that aims at ensuring the highest possible level of health and well-being and their equitable distribution by focusing on people’s needs and as early as possible along the continuum from health promotion and disease prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, and as close as feasible to people’s everyday environment.”
In India, Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and sub-centres at the village and gram panchayat levels are the nearest medical institutions that provide care. The Finance Commission 2020 highlights the challenges of primary healthcare in India. The structural challenges include low investment and weaker institutional capacity on the supply side, including inadequate doctors, paramedics, hospitals, and the insufficient number of healthcare centres like PHCs, and sub-centres.
Mobile Healthcare Unit – An initiative of HelpAge
HelpAge’s Mobile Healthcare Unit (MHU) provides sustainable healthcare solutions to destitute elders and their community. Each MHU has a doctor, a pharmacist and a social worker. The MHU caters to rural areas of Udaipur in Rajasthan. The services include free consultation, treatment, medicines for common ailments, awareness and diagnostics of common ailments & non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, hypertension, refractive error correction and even counselling and awareness of health and nutrition.
Amrit Clinics – An initiative by Seva Mandir
Amrit Clinic developed by Seva Mandir is a rural hospital providing curative, preventative healthcare services and treatment to communities in the remotest villages of Udaipur. Since June 2018, Seva Mandir has partnered with Basic Health Care Services (BHS), a not-for-profit organization which provides primary health care level. BHS provides qualified doctors and trains nurses (General Nursing) and other health workers.
The Amrit clinic model has proved to be a considerable success at Kojawara, with over 6,000 patients being treated in the first year. The clinic’s outreach service is currently in 14 remote villages and provides essential lifesaving antenatal and postnatal care services.
The need for a focus on primary healthcare
The World Health Organisation (WHO), emphasising the importance of primary healthcare says that it is imperative to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage. Poor primary healthcare leads to increased poverty, hunger, education, gender inequality, poor clean water and sanitation, less work and economic growth, and reducing equality and climate action.
Interventions in primary healthcare like the Mobile Health Unit and Amrit clinics supported by GiveIndia not only provide increased access to quality primary health care services to remotest communities and improve their health but also prevent them from getting into the vicious cycle of poverty.
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