26 Jan 2016
Working with our colleagues in India
HelpAge India’s Mobile Medicare Unit, (MMU) which is funded by Legal & General in partnership with IndiaFirst, has been a regular feature around Mumbai since 2010, providing free medicine and health care to older people in the community. As well as health checks, the older people that the Medi Van supports get access to mobility aids, counselling and signposting to benefits and other schemes that might help improve their quality of life.
As in the UK, many older people in Mumbai are living with and managing multiple long-term health conditions such as hypertension, joint pain and diabetes.
The biggest barrier to health care is financial hardship and not being able to afford to buy the medicines they need. There is also huge pressure on the Government provided services, and older people often find themselves managing multiple long-term conditions alone.
The MMU visits the poorer areas of Mumbai, supporting those older people who wouldn’t normally get access to medical care and treatment. Over 8,000 treatments have taken place between April and September 2015, making a real difference to the lives of those it helps.
A number of new initiatives have been developed to further improve the service. They include:
- Partnering with some local and hospitals and pathology laboratories so that MMU beneficiaries receive treatment free of charge or at a concessional rate.
- Outreach work to make the service available to the transgender community, with around 40 transgender patients are benefiting so far.
- Shadowing of the medical team out in the van by college students as part of their studies, giving the opportunity to the students to connect with some of the issues that older people face.
Sundara is 80 and lives with her son. Sadly, her husband left her a few years ago and she was left without any financial support, leaving her finances in a mess. She suffers from joint pain and hypertension and was struggling to get any help to manage her conditions because she could not afford the healthcare.
Since finding out about the MMU, Sundara is a regular visitor and has her hypertension under control as well as receiving pain relief. Because of this, it has meant her wellbeing has improved and she is able to take up some work locally to boost the household income for her and her son. Sundara has become a local ambassador for the MMU and is actively promoting the service to other older people in her community who could benefit.
Employees at the Mumbai office of IndiaFirst are looking to get more involved in the work of the MMU in 2016, through talks, volunteering and fund raising.