River Ambulance

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Lifeline for underprivileged

A 1312 kms long raft journey was accomplished by Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, founder of Narmada Samagra in the year 2006 from the origin (Amarkantak) to the confluence of Narmada with Arabian Sea (Bharuch). It was noticed that the tribal and underprivileged people living near the banks of River Narmada are deficit of primary health facilities. Those journey observations soon became the need of providing health services to these people and for residents of submerged area of dams, a ‘River Ambulance’ came into existence. This innovative experiment of ‘River Ambulance’ was first launched in Bargi Reservoir Area, District Mandla in the year 2011, which was gifted to Narmada Samagra by Indian multinational public sector banking and financial services company.

The Situation

This program was identified by assessing the situation of people living in villages adjacent to the banks of the river Narmada. Located in deep jungles the villages on the banks of Narmada in the reservoir area have poor or no road connectivity but are accessible from river side. These people had to cover a distance of 30-40 km crossing mountainous terrains to get to a Government Hospital, even to avail basic health care facilities.

Scores of adivasis and other people living in these remote areas have been deprived of basic health care and other medical services because of lack of connectivity. Innumerable people have suffered major ailments and at times there has been loss of human life due to no access to health services. As River Narmada is the most reliable means of transportation for the people living here, a “River Ambulance” was planned.

The Project

The River Ambulance operations in the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Area began in 2013 and Merck Limited offered & initiated its cooperation & support for the River Ambulance Project from 2014 onwards, focusing on 16 stops of the Narmada River. Presently the ambulance serves 30 stops, covering more than 40 Phālia (settlements/colonies – people in this area live on hills in scattered way). It serves in the back waters of Sardar Sarovar Dam covering Alirajpur, Barwani and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh. The service runs (maximum) five days a week attending to an average of 40-50 beneficiaries per day. During the course of time, the ambulance has extended its reach to about 200 km along the banks of river Narmada, covering various tribal and deprived communities.

Merck, a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science sectors, under its “Access to Health” initiative, has donated a new boat for “Narmada Samagra – River Ambulance Project”, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative in collaboration with the NGO Narmada Samagra.

The objective of this program is to improve the access to basic health care facilities for people living on the banks of the Narmada River, MP.

The Ambulance offers treatment for body ailments, fever, skin ailments, provides health care support to pregnant women and other basic/primary health services. Awareness about health and hygiene is also given through the ambulance by the Health Care Practitioners (HCP) on board.

Launch of New River Ambulance, 2016

Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, India, March 19, 2016 – Merck, a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science sectors, under its “Access to Health” initiative has donated a new boat for its “Narmada Samagra- River Ambulance” program, a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative in collaboration with the NGO Narmada Samagra. Started in 2014, the objective of this program is to improve the access to basic health care facilities for people living on the banks of the Narmada River, MP. The new boat inaugurated by Mr Anil Madhav Dave, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Madhya Pradesh and Mr Ali Sleiman, General Manager Merck India (Biopharma, Global Operations) will further strengthen the core activities and reach of this program.

The Ambulance offers treatment for body ailments, fever, skin ailments and provides health care support to pregnant ladies. Awareness about health and hygiene is also given through the ambulance by the Health Care Practitioners (HCP) on board. An increase in awareness about ailments and untreated diseases has also been noted among the beneficiaries.

Technical Features

• FRP Catamaran Boat, 9 mt length x 5 mt wide with illuminated cabin.
• Inboard twin diesel engine of 45 hp each with steering and remote control system.
• It has an examination bed and cabinets under bed.
• Additional space to keep extra fuel and tool kit.
• Equipped with life safety appliances like life jackets and lifebuoy rings.
• Meets Bharat IV norms for exhaust system.

Operational Features

• The new boat can accommodate more health care material, more staff and can transport more cases with serious issues.
• It can carry about 15 people at one time.
• Ambulance serves over 40 Phālia (settlements/colonies) on the banks of Narmada River.
• It runs 5 days a week attending to an average of 40-50 beneficiaries per day.
• The visit schedule varies according to season. During monsoon the trip frequency reduces.
• It covers 200 k.m. catchment area of River Narmada, covering various tribal and deprived communities.
• It will help in carrying the important primary vaccinations, TT Operations, eye testing, oral testing and other health related camps.
• The health camps are arranged time to time.
• In case of sudden and serious illness, patients are referred to hospital.

Annual Expenses

Operational & service – maintenance cost of running River Ambulance including volunteers honorarium, medicines etc comes to about rupees 12 lakhs per annum.

Volunteers on board

• Health Care Practitioners visit – as per schedule.
• Doctors visit – camps, weekly/fortnightly/monthly basis.
• Operator/Navigator
• Assistant Operator/Helper
• Coordinator

The first River Ambulance

Narmada Samagra had launched the first ‘River Ambulance’ in 2011 for the people on the Narmada banks in villages surrounding the Bargi Dam reservoir in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. It has a provision for a minor Operation Theater (O.T.), oxygen and also a cold storage for life saving drugs. Now it has started in Sardar Sarovar Dam area including Badwani, Dhar and Alirajpur.

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