There is a piece of good news for all the migrant laborers of the Koonammavu neighborhood of the Ernakulam district. A clinic on-wheels has been initiated by the joint efforts of the National Health Mission and the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID) on March 29th.
This initiative was taken, keeping the migrant laborers and their issues in mind.
The initiative was successful as it reached out to more than 3000 workers in a matter of just two weeks. The clinic on wheels was named ‘Bandhu’ which translates to ‘a friend’ in Bengali. This was done to make an impact on the migrants as they would feel easier to approach the clinic. The clinic also gives tips and preventive health care in their mother tongue to make it easier for them to understand.
Akhil Manuel, who is the Migrant Nodal Medical Officer of Ernakulum District, in an interview with Manorama News said that the program is under the famous project, Athithi Devo Bhava which is coordinated along with the migrant welfare projects conducted by the NHM.
This brainchild is set up in a bus converted clinic which has a certified doctor, nurse and a nursing assistant who also drives the on wheel clinic. They are supervised by the program director who assists them. The clinic was made to target the three problems faced by the migrants which were accessibility, communication and time constraint.
The migrants can now freely approach the clinic as it is available all time and the language barrier has been lifted. Shefeena PS, the project director with the CMID says in an interview that these issues have been solved as the doctors can speak their language and are available after their working hours.
The clinic is so popular among the migrants that on an average day, it receives about 300 to 400 visits relating to COVID-19 in the working hours of 8 am to 4 pm. The clinic conducts basic checking for the COVID-19 symptoms and if they diagnose anyone with persistent cough and fever then they are transferred to the nearest Primary Health Centre to give the patient complete treatment.
Initially, the Bandhu Clinic was scheduled to be on the roads by May but the current crisis of COVID-19 led to the preponing of the program. According to Dr. Akhil, the clinic is not a camp approach but they focus on continuous monitoring methods. The clinic will prioritize on regular check-ups and follow-ups with affordable and free medicines. He also says that once the pandemic is under control, the on wheel clinic will visit migrant labor camps regularly and at a fixed time.
The clinic is not just for the COVID-19 combating strategy but for the continued welfare of the migrant laborers who can’t access proper health care facilities. According to Benoy Peter, the Executive Director of CMID, Bandhu Clinic is serving as an icon for the ‘public-private-civil society organization partnership’. Bandhu is the first ever kind of project for migrant workers in India and it can set an example with the idea and solve issues with collaborative efforts in the future.