03 september 2005
High-tech mobile clinic drives through rural India
The project DISHA (Distance Healthcare Advancement) aims at reaching poor villagers in the district Theni in Tamil Nadu. These villagers spend a higher proportion on health care than their urban counterparts. They pay high interest rates on loans for health care, and lose income because they have to travel far to see a doctor.
DISHA tries to tackle health problems in an early stage, thus reducing rural poverty. The project is a private-public partnership between the Indian Space Research Organisation (public), the health care provider Apollo and Philips India (both private) and the Development of Humane Action (non-governmental).
Philips India has constructed a van, equipped with devices like an ultrasound machine, X-ray, ECG, and a defibrillator. The mobile clinic, run by doctors and paramedics, is in direct contact with specialised medical staff from hospitals in the district capital Madurai. The NGO Development of Humane Action will train volunteers from the villages to become counsellors in nutrition and hygiene.
The Indian Space Research Organisation has initiated a satellite-based telemedicine network in the country, in order to make specialized health care available people living in remote areas.
DISHA is now testing the concept. After some 500 diagnoses and image transfers, the system will be improved, and expanded to six other regions. Philips India is already constructing a smaller type van (without X-ray), that can deliver cheaper service to people in even more remote areas.
What motivates Philips India to get involved in a pilot-project, aiming at low-income people? As CEO K. Ramachandran explained at the inauguration of the project in Madurai: "Our challenge lies in expanding our scope to new markets and new business opportunities with sustainability as the key driver. Today the population growth is highest in emerging markets especially in the mid and low ends of the economic pyramid. Technology can help drive sustainable solutions that bridge the divide between the privileged and lesser privileged sections of society and improve the quality of life at all levels. However, new value delivery models need to be created to make this happen and this strategic partnership is a step in that direction."
P+ Webtip: Philips Sustainability