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In Mumbai's Govandi, Mobile Medical Units Screen People For COVID-19

In Mumbai's Govandi, Mobile Medical Units Screen People For COVID-19

Highlights

  1. GiveIndia and Doctors For You have started mobile screening in Mumbai
  2. 6 mobile medical units have been deployed at slums in Mumbai's Govandi
  3. The six mobile medical units in Mumbai screen up to 300 people a day
New Delhi: 

Test, isolate and trace is what the World Health Organisation's (WHO) advice on strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. In a media briefing on April 22, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at the WHO had said, “WHO's advice is to find and test every suspected case, not every person in a population”. Keeping up with the WHO's advice, GiveIndia, a non-profit organisation along with Doctors For You, a pan India humanitarian organisation, has deployed six mobile medical units at slums in Mumbai's Govandi.

The mobile medical units operate in the most densely populated urban slum areas of Mumbai, screening the residents for COVID -19, identifying and isolating potential carriers, and providing free medicines, masks and soaps during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Talking to NDTV about the initiative, Dr. Vaishali Venu, Director - Health and Nutrition at Doctors For You, said,

We started this initiative where our medical mobile units would go into the community with a doctor a nurse and two volunteers and we would screen the community for COVID and non-COVID related symptoms. Once the screening is done, whoever required referrals are sent to a government health post where the swabs are taken and then the patients who test positive for COVID-19 are sent to the isolation wards.

According to the residents of the slums, it is difficult to access medical care as with many doctors having tested positive for COVID-19, clinics are shut. In such a scenario, the mobile medical unit comes as a beacon of hope and fills the gap. Sharing the experience of getting medical care through one of the mobile medical units, a beneficiary said,

When the lockdown happened, we faced a lot of problems as there were no doctors here. We were very worried when we fell ill. But when the Doctors For You team came, they use to check our temperature, pulse and oxygen levels and give us medicine.

The six mobile medical units in Mumbai screen up to 300 people a day with more than 16,500 screenings so far.

At the two-hour ‘Caring For India' telethon organised by NDTV and GiveIndia, Rajat Jain, President of Doctors For You spoke about how these mobile units are helping curb the community transmission of COVID-19 in Mumbai and said,

Till now, in Mumbai only, we are able to screen more than 16,000 population. And we know that the screening and testing is one the biggest intervention in this COVID area. Through screening, we were able to find out more than 55 patients who were COVID positive and they were having hypoxia (absence of enough oxygen in the tissues). Now, with our intervention, they are being treated in the hospitals and we were able to save them. Otherwise, because of the hypoxia, their condition might have worsened and we might have lost all of them. Similarly, we conducted these screening programmes at a lot of pediatric places also because we know that though in pediatric patients (infants, children, and adolescents) the disease doesn't get severe, they act as a major source of spreading the infection to the other people. We were able to identify a lot of pediatric age group COVID positive patients. We believe that this is a major impact that it has created.

As of now, mobile medical units have been deployed only in Mumbai. But, considering the spread of the COVID-19 disease to tier two cities and non-metro cities as well, the team plans to extend the intervention to other areas, said Mr Jain, before signing off.

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COVID-19 remains a health emergency and a deadly threat, especially to the most vulnerable. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been responding to the global pandemic since it began. MSF doctors and nurses are treating patients and supporting communities across Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.

Now the independent medical organisation is starting operations to combat COVID-19 in India. By setting up dedicated medical facilities to treat COVID-19 patients in Govandi, Mumbai and Patna in Bihar – where needs are huge and growing - and improving hygiene and sanitation among at-risk communities, MSF is working hard to save lives and contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

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