With an effort to provide free doorstep healthcare to the city's poor, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Bhopal will soon rope neighbourhood residents to coordinate between the doctors and the slum dwellers.
Under the initiative, a local resident from a selected neighbourhood will be trained as a ‘slum mobile dost (friend)', officials said Saturday.
Doctors at the AIIMS, who have launched a pilot project at a settlement close to the institute, said the venture besides providing immediate healthcare will also map the dwellers medical history.
Ten settlements are to be included in the project, but not identified yet. They would be identified soon.
"The project is aimed as an intervention for improving healthcare seeking behavior of residents of poor settlements with support of our Telemedicine Centre in AIIMS Bhopal," said Dr Surya Bali, an associate professor at the premier medical institute and the man behind the project.
Around 28% of the state’s urban population lives in slum areas, Dr Bali said quoting the 2011 census figures.
The 'dosts' or volunteer healthcare workers besides being trained in basic healthcare will also be taught how to handle smartphones to coordinate with doctors at AIIMS.
Dr Bali said that the mobile healthcare workers would also post pictures of the patients and set up teleconferencing with doctors at the institute’s telemedicine centre.
"If necessary, doctors would visit the settlement on being called by the mobile dost."
The mobile healthcare workers will be paid an honorarium depending on the patients they serve, said Dr Bali.
The first of its kind initiative in the city, besides addressing issues like accessibility and affordability of primary healthcare of slum dwellers, will also map their medical, social and economic profiles, Dr Bali said.
Dr Bali said this project would address many factors which affect the accessibility and affordability of slum dwellers to healthcare services such as transportation cost, consultation cost, timely medication, compromise his/her daily wages etc. The project has been divided into three phases.
The first phase will comprise of identification of settlements to be included in the project. This would be done based on census data.
A base line survey to understand the current health, social and economic situations of slums would be conducted.
The second phase will include geographical information system (GIS) mapping — a computer aided data mapping system— of the health, social and economic profiles of the slums under the project.
In concluding phase, tele-counseling in all the selected slums will be initiated.
The initiative will also conduct medical camps and drug distributions at regular intervals.
It will also carry out information, education, and communication (IEC) activities to generate awareness among the community.
Weekly meeting with adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating mothers and influential people of the community will be also held through the slum mobile dost.