The Mobile Health Unit (MHU) project by Essar has been operating successfully for the last one year near Paradeep. Based on a household survey assessing the health needs and priorities, the MHU was launched to provide primary and basic health care facilities to people living in 17 villages of three gram panchayats of Kujanga block - Nuagarh, Bhutamundai and Paradeepgarh.
Earlier, people had to travel quite a distance to access primary healthcare services. The Mobile Health Project is being implemented by Essar Foundation after getting the necessary permission from the district administration as well as the Odisha government under the Odisha Clinical Establishments Act, 1990.
The project design is based on an itinerant model which ensures that the MHU visits a particular location of a village regularly on a pre-scheduled day and time. All these parameters have been mutually discussed and agreed upon between Essar and the communities and gram panchayats. It follows a participatory model and changes are brought on the basis of learnings and people’s needs expressed through established informal channels.
The MHU provides basic and primary health facilities (consultation with the doctor and provision of prescribed medicines) free of cost to people of the three gram panchayats. It is operated by a dedicated team comprising an MBBS doctor, a certified pharmacist, a community health mobilizer, a lady attendant and a driver-cum-patient registration facilitator.
The specially designed vehicle, with a fulltime driver, visits two villages daily as per a predetermined visit schedule. It is equipped with an examination table, medication storage and a wash basin. Each patient is provided a health/diagnosis card for maintaining patient history. A number of health awareness and promotion materials/pamphlets provided by the NRHM have also been distributed during the daily village visits.
The MHU stops at mutually agreed and identified locations to facilitate maximum patient access. The locations have been identified by taking into account the population cluster of the village, accessibility for the vehicle as well as people during all seasons, and adequate parking space.
Often multiple locations in a village are also chosen to suit the community’s needs. The target population includes people of all categories, genders, castes, faiths, classes and demographic divisions (children, adults and elders of both sexes). The initiative benefits women and the elderly the most, owing to their low mobility and access to health services in general.
The MHU completed the first year of its community service in July 2013. There were 20,464 beneficiaries as on 24 July 2013, including more than 10,000 women, 1,500 children and 4,700 elderly persons.
The 17 villages/ hamlets it covers have a population of about 30,000 living in more than 6,000 households.