Health For All: The Hans Foundation's MMUs Delivers Healthcare to 10,59,268 Beneficiaries
Good Health is crucial for every person to be able to achieve their full potential. While India faces a significant challenge in providing access to basic healthcare for its population, particularly in rural areas where most of the population resides. However, efforts are being made to bridge the gap. Equitable distribution of health services and access to healthcare are essential components to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets under the National Health Mission. Despite the challenges, India is making strides toward providing quality healthcare to all, including those in underserved communities.
Social norms and customs often act as a colossal barrier to availing healthcare facilities in rural areas. As a result, poor health outcomes are prevalent. To address this issue, The Hans Foundation’s (THF’s) Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) provide healthcare facilities to the remotest areas, focusing on women and children. A Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) is an innovative model of healthcare delivery that can help alleviate health disparities in vulnerable populations and individuals with chronic diseases in rural and remote areas.
With a qualified MBBS doctor, nurse/social protection officer, pharmacist, lab technician, and driver on staff, THF’s MMUs have been making a significant impact in delivering primary healthcare services to underserved communities. The Hans Foundation has conducted over 25 MMU tours, providing access to quality healthcare services, referral services, and awareness-building activities to 500 villages in 10 states.
In February 2023, The Hans Foundation deployed a total of 192 MMU vehicles to serve remote areas in six states: Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. These MMUs provided primary health services to thousands of beneficiaries, including free medicines, diagnostic tests, and counseling. A total of 7,078 OPD sessions were conducted, and diagnostic tests were provided to 50,221 beneficiaries. The MMUs work on the principle of ‘Fixed Day Fixed Place’ and provide the standard package of services like the availability of a set of free medicines, provision of a set of diagnostic tests, counseling, and preventive services like periodic testing of drinking water at the point of usage. Home visits for the elderly and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) are also provided, and critical patients are referred to tertiary care centers.
Brijbala Devi, a resident of village Tamar, says, “Whenever we are working on the farm and hear the noise of THF (Mobile Medical Units), we run towards the noise.” The Hans Foundation takes the services to their doorsteps, conducting a total of 2,207 home visits. The quality of healthcare is crucial to ensure successful treatment. Studies have suggested that a minimum of 5 minutes should be spent on patient consultation to provide effective care. Overall, 51% of MMUs dedicated 5 minutes or more to consulting with each patient, while managing an average patient load of 0 to 60 per day. The MMUs' commitment to quality care has made a significant impact on the communities they serve, offering tailored, high-impact, and affordable healthcare that responds dynamically to the ever-changing needs of patients.
MMUs have a major impact in offering urgent care, providing preventative health screenings, and initiating chronic disease management. These units open doors to marginalized communities and help in offering tailored, high-impact, and affordable healthcare that responds dynamically to the community’s ever-changing needs. The organization works directly at the grassroots levels, and till February 2023, a total of 10,59,268 unique beneficiaries received services from THF’s MMUs. THF helped 3,942 remote villages by conducting 7,078 OPD sessions, and healthcare was provided to 2,21,330 beneficiaries. Even after Ahilya Kumari (from Chatt village) suffered from diabetes and is handicapped, her health improved over time through doorstep visits conducted by The Hans Foundation.
The Mobile Medical Units program is planned in close coordination with the respective state governments in all locations. Working closely with public health officials at the state, district, and block level, as well as with the local panchayats ensures that the vans reach out to the truly under-served population - strengthening public health delivery without 5 creations of parallel systems. In addition, the model is also working to engage local health workers from the communities themselves to ensure that services reach every household. These health workers’ role involves ensuring the uptake of true health-seeking behaviour in the communities they are serving.