Monday, December 4, 2023

Gramin clinic chain in rural M’laya proves game-changer


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SHILLONG, April 23: In rural Meghalaya, where access to healthcare is often a luxury, a tech-driven, sustainable primary healthcare clinic chain is changing lives through Gramin health clinics and the government has expanded it to 20 more locations.
The first healthcare clinic was piloted through a joint effort between Gramin and the Smart Village Movement, Meghalaya, at Sohrarim in April 2021. Services offered at this clinic include teleconsultation with doctors, diagnostic services, affordable medicine, and extensive outreach activities. Initiated when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, this clinic came as a boon to the people living in remote areas like Sohrarim.
When Bitoria, an 82-year-old woman, was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid issues, she obtained her initial medications from a hospital in Shillong. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she was in a difficult situation as she lived in Sohrarim, a small village in rural part of the state. Her grandchild, who sends the supply of medications 40 km away from Shillong, could not send the medicines as a lockdown was declared. Fortunately, she learned about the Gramin Polyclinic which recently opened in her area.
“I was so relieved to hear that there was a clinic nearby that I could visit. This clinic is a great blessing, as it is more affordable and convenient than travelling to any hospital in Shillong. The clinic has been a huge benefit to me and my family, especially during the lockdown when everything was closed,” said Bitoria.
“Medicines were made available at the doorstep,” Bitoria recounted. “I just had to call the nurses at the clinic, and they would send the medicines through the delivery boy,” she said with a smile.
The community’s response to this initiative is remarkable, with patients like Bitoria who had to travel long distances to receive healthcare services earlier.
An assessment of the impact of this clinic through a survey conducted at Sohrarim and the villages surrounding it, along with the data from the clinic, showed that this clinic has catered to nearly half of the population served, and the percentage of repeat visitors is high.
The Meghalaya government has expanded these private clinics to 20 more locations across the state.
“We wanted to bring quality healthcare services to people who otherwise would not have access to them,” said Director, National Health Mission, Ramkumar S, who is also Nodal Officer, SVM Meghalaya. “The response we received from the community was overwhelming, and it gave us the confidence to expand Gramin healthcare services to other locations,” he added.
For rural communities, where healthcare delivery and access are often lacking, introducing a private healthcare clinic like Gramin Healthcare Clinics is very likely to help boost primary healthcare services and reduce the burden on tertiary healthcare facilities. While public healthcare facilities are the primary providers of healthcare to the people, these private clinics can serve as a complementary channel for the rural population to access healthcare services closer to their homes.

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