India’s rural health infrastructure, which is hit by shortage of equipment and ICU beds, will now be strengthened by Mission ICU, a collaborative social initiative of CHD Group. This public health organization, holding UN ECOSOC Special Consultative Status, is supported by volunteers across the country.

Mission ICU is building healthcare capacity in small towns and rural areas by setting up 10-bed ICUs to ensure medical preparedness for future pandemics in a sustainable manner. To this end, it provides an end-to-end solution, right from sourcing fund to due diligence/hospital selection, equipment procurement and installation. The ICU is standardised to include beds, medical equipment and installation support.

Apart from just procuring the equipment, there are other factors to consider such as familiarity of the staff with the equipment, periodic maintenance/warranty of equipment and training of staff to use the equipment. We are partnered with PrimedeQ, an e-commerce platform for medical equipment. Experts at PrimedeQ help us with each of these factors to ensure that the donated equipment is sustainable in the long term. Additionally, we at CHD group conduct due diligence for choosing beneficiary hospitals so that hospitals are able to make the most of the donated critical care equipment, Dr. Edmond Fernandes, founder of CHD Group told Pharmabiz.

Our due diligence process allows us to filter out beneficiary hospitals. We collect information from the hospital on the current staff as they have to ensure that they can seamlessly adopt the donated equipment. Additionally, we add beds to hospitals with a minimum of 20 existing beds to ensure that the hospital has an existing oxygen gas line, doctors, nurses and trained paramedic staff who has experience of using these equipments.

Over 50% of India’s Covid cases come from rural India. However, the ICUs and critical care infrastructure required to tackle Covid-19 is largely concentrated in urban Tier 1 cities. Bridging the critical care gap is a challenge for rural India.

The concept was conceived during the second wave of Covid-19 in India to bridge the critical care gap between urban Tier 1 and rural Tier 2 and 3 cities. We bolster existing infrastructure in beneficiary hospitals by adding the equipment for 10 critical care beds. The flagship project was in May 2021 at Tumkur district, Karnataka with support from Arogya World, USA. Following this, Chikmagalur and Ballari installations came with support of Crypto Relief/United Way Bangalore, and Gadag with the support of Kantar.

It has already installed 40 ICU beds in 4 locations with adequate funding for 15 locations with 150 beds. At this stage, we will be able to directly impact 4,000 patients per month and indirectly impact 20,000 patients’ families. It intends to install 1,000 ICU beds in rural India covering Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and North East India. It is keen to create a social franchise to enable other organizations to procure ICU kits for rural beneficiaries hospitals on their own. CSR funds came in from Arogya World, Kantar, Wadhwani Foundation, United Way Bangalore, Samridh Health fund of USAid and Crypto Relief.

“However, the big-picture impact will be to create a stronger ICU infrastructure for rural India which will last beyond Covid-19. Going forward, a database will be created to provide updated ICU bed availability for each district so that donors and partner organizations can get a clear picture on the status,” he said

The initiative was conceived by Dr Ashwin Naik, Maanoj Shah and Dr Edmond Fernandes to rapidly scale up ICU setup in the rural areas.

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