In the past, Mobile Medical Units comprised makeshift medical camps under a tree, on the outskirts of villages. Generally, a Mobile Medical Unit was equipped with a doctor, a nurse, and a helper, who were trained to recognise symptoms of health related ailments, conduct basic diagnosis of common diseases, prescribe medication and referrals to specialised clinics in case of further medical complications. Using this model, mobile healthcare services are able to cover four to five villages in a single day. However, with advancements in technology, Mobile Medical Units evolved into Mobile Medical Vans, which work with greater speed and efficiency. With the availability of these vans, raising awareness, ensuring preventive vaccination and encouraging regular medical check-ups among the rural population became a possibility.
Mobile Medical Units have helped mobilise healthcare to conduct screenings, basic diagnosis and in some instances provide complex medical treatments closer to people’s homes. Regardless of the difficult terrain, low connectivity, or institutional barriers, medical care can be made available to people across socio-economic groups, with minimum expenditure and relatively lesser operations and management responsibilities, as compared to those required by fully functional hospitals. By collaborating with medical colleges and trainee healthcare institutions, Mobile Medical Units can also give students a window of opportunity to perform basic diagnostic procedures for practice and help the needy, at the same time. Such experiences can also help improve theirunderstanding of the on-ground difficulties that are slowing down the progress of healthcare in the country and be an opportunity for them to make a difference by providing solutions to the existing problems.
India accounts for over 97 per cent of malaria deaths in South East Asia, out of which 90 per cent occur in rural areas. However, Mobile Medical Units can carry out the necessary tests and treatment, and raise awareness about prevention of malaria in the rural areas itself. Bringing healthcare to the doorstep of the rural population, Mobile Medical Units are operated in partnership with state goverment or the National Rural Health Mission (NHM) as well as the socially responsible corporates to reach out to the poor and less fortunate segments of society.
The free clinics are staffed by a doctor, nurse, radiologist, lab technician, pharmacist and driver and provide medical check-ups, investigation facilities, awareness programmes, post-natal services, electrocardiography and medication.