by The Welthi Bureau | 3 JULY 2018
Helping Hand Foundation (HHF), a Healthcare NGO, has provided 3250 free cab rides to underprivileged patients, under its flag ship ‘Humsafar’ program at the end of first year of operations across 23 state run hospitals in the city.
70% of the economically poor cannot afford to pay inflated rates charged by auto-rickshaws to go to the nearest public transport points like bus and railway stations and for inter-hospital transfers, highlighting the need to provide free transport as a first step to solve public health problems. 80% of patients that the NGO interviewed complained that they spent twice the amount of their bus or railway ticket charges travelling from districts to access public health facilities in the city.
The scheme, along with a public trust, saved around Rs. 10.5 lacs for patients who otherwise spend, at an average, Rs 300 – 400 on medical transport, as mentioned by Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari, Helping Hand Foundation.
Out of the total number of patients who were provided free Ola or Uber cab services– 60% was towards interfacility transfers and the remaining towards drops to public transport points within the city. A majority of the interfacility transfer was from primary and secondary level care to higher centres. The scheme also provided for to-and-fro medical transport in the case of hospital referrals. An average trip using cab aggregators works to about Rs. 130 per trip, which translated to nearly Rs 4.75 lacs of expenses for the year.
The NGO arranged for a WhatsApp call centre where 75 of its volunteers, working across 23 state run facilities, logged requests for medical transport assistance, with 12 – 15 requests daily from patients who do not require breathing support. Several patients who availed the service, including patients at the state run MNJ Cancer Hospital, have expressed satisfaction in the less stressful rides. The service also accommodated patients from OGH, Gandhi Hospitals, Chest Hospital Eragada and Government Area hospitals in the city, including Barkas CHC.
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