“Swasthya Sawari” a mobile van-based health centre arrives in a Jharkhand district

With an aim to bring quality healthcare closer to communities and truly realize the vision of the Ayushman Bharat program, Swasthya Sawari was designed to reach the last mile, especially the communities in hard-to-reach areas

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Image-Dr. Raju Kachhyap, Civil Surgeon, Gumla, flags off 2 Swasthya Sawari: Health & Wellness Centre on Wheels units in Kamdara & Palkot blocks of the district. The launch was attended by the leadership from USAID, Boston Consulting Group, and Jhpiego, along with the district health administration including the BDOs, SDO, Circle Officer, and the Block MOICs.
New Delhi: In order to expand the reach and impact of the Government of India’s Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres program, Gumla District along with the Jharkhand Government, has announced the launch of Mobile Health and Wellness Centres. 
Also known as “Swasthya Sawari,” this specialized mobile van-based model, which was designed in coordination with the government, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Jivika Healthcare, and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), aims to reach more than 50,000 people as part of its pilot phase.
With funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and Give (formerly Give India), Jivika Healthcare, a private doctor-based mobile health service provider, will provide end-to-end operationalization support. Jhpiego, a global health non-profit and Johns Hopkins University affiliate as part of NISHTHA project, will provide on-ground support in collaboration with Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centers.
On the launch, Sushant Gaurav IAS, District Collector, Gumla, tweeted, “We are happy to announce the launch of Swasthya Sawari (Mobile Medical Unit) by Jivika Healthcare in Basia division of Gumla district. This program will provide healthcare services across 20+ conditions in the hard-to-reach underserved villages of Kamdara and Palkot blocks. @prdjharkhand @HemantSorenJMM”
In 2018, India embarked on an ambitious journey to provide equitable, efficient, and effective healthcare to its citizens with the launch of the Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres program. With an aim to bring quality healthcare closer to communities and truly realize the vision of the Ayushman Bharat program, Swasthya Sawari was designed to reach the last mile, especially the communities in hard-to-reach areas. This specialized mobile van-based model will bring qualified medical staff, equipment, and medicines closer to the doorstep of the underserved population in the Gumla District thereby advancing the key objectives of the program, i.e., providing universal access to free primary health care, strengthening accountability at the last mile, and shifting the health ecosystem focus from curative to preventive healthcare for all.
The Swasthya Sawari program will focus on providing quality primary healthcare services including screening, diagnosis, counseling, consultations, treatment, and referrals. The mobile vans will transport doctors, nurses, medical equipment, and medicine in order to conduct day-long camps across clusters of remote, hard-to-reach villages with low population density. This means that more communities will gain access to cancer, dental, and ENT screenings, comprehensive ante-natal care for pregnant women, family planning, prevention and treatment for diseases such as dengue, malaria, tuberculosis, and more.
To optimize resources and maximize impact, the program will be enabled by data-driven planning, extensive community mobilization, and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission compliant digital systems to track patient health to ensure continuity of care and integration with government systems. As the program evolves, the units will function as an interface between the primary health facilities and citizens in remote locations with patient reporting and follow-ups being handled by the mapped facilities.
Deepali Khanna, Vice President, Asia, The Rockefeller Foundation, said, “We believe that these mobile units are a great way to reach the last-mile communities in remote geographies. This program will help improve access and encourage health-seeking behavior at the last mile. Complications in pregnancies, during cancer treatment, and other health challenges are often detected at a later stage when the treatment is either too expensive or not available. It is important to ensure that progress made by such programs doesn’t get lost and is integrated within the government health systems to ensure continuity of care for patients.”
Sangita Patel, USAID/India’s Health Office Director, said, “USAID believes that achieving health goals and improving health systems performance begins by investing in primary health care. The mobile vans, launched today, will bring essential primary care services closer to those that need them.  By collaborating with the private sector, this initiative will bring to bear innovative and sustainable solutions that can be scaled for broader benefit.”
Dr. Raju Kachhyap, Civil Surgeon, Gumla, said, “The private sector can play a valuable role in augmenting the government’s efforts in ensuring that health services reach the last mile. We thank Jivika Healthcare for coming up with this innovative offering. Especially, in aspirational districts like Gumla, where hesitancies towards health services exist amongst the tribal, and other minority population segments, the private sector’s role in bringing in qualified and trained staff to fill the dearth of skilled personnel at the grassroots can be a game-changer.”