– by Regia Kom
When Bitoria, an 82-year-old woman, was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid issues, she obtained her initial medications from a hospital in Shillong. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she was in a difficult situation as she lived in a small village called Sohrarim in rural Meghalaya. Her grandchild, who sends the supply of medications 40 km away from Shillong, could not send the medicines as a lockdown was declared. Fortunately, she learned about the Gramin Polyclinic recently opened in her area.
In Image: Bitoria Tariang with Nurses at Gramin Health Care Clinic
“I was so relieved to hear that there was a clinic nearby that I could visit,” says Bitoria. “It was a huge relief for my family, who were worried about my health, and me.This clinic is a great blessing, as it is more affordable and convenient than traveling to any hospital in Shillong. The clinic has been a huge benefit to me and my family, especially during the lockdown when everything was closed,” said Bitoria.
In collaboration with Gramin Healthcare, the Government of Meghalaya supports telemedicine clinics in underserved areas under the State’s Smart Village Movement initiative. This initiative helps Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s goal to provide last-mile access to quality healthcare in the State. By collaborating with multiple stakeholders like private enterprises and NGOs, the Government of Meghalaya has successfully enhanced the health services throughout the State.
In Image: Team Members – Gramin Healthcare Clinic
The Chief Minister during his visit to the pilot clinic at Sohrarim had said, ‘this small intervention and with the use of technology, training the manpower, creating the process in a systematic way, we have been able to provide health services to people who would have to otherwise travel for hours and hours and spend a lot of money going to different centers to get the benefit. So this is a great benefit for the people of this area and we hope that we be able to expand this to other parts of the state once this model is established properly out here based on the needs of our people.”
The first healthcare clinic was piloted through a joint effort between Gramin and the Smart Village Movement, Meghalaya, at Sohrarim in April 2021. Services offered at this clinic include teleconsultation with doctors, diagnostic services, affordable medicine, and extensive outreach activities. Initiated when the COVID pandemic was at its peak, this clinic came as a boon to the people living in a remote areas like Sohrarim. “Medicines were made available at the doorstep,” Bitoria recounted. “I just had to call the nurses at the clinic, and they would send the medicines through the delivery boy,” she smiled.
In Image: Bitoria Tariang, Age 82 yrs old
The community’s response to this initiative is remarkable, with patients like Bitoria who had to travel long distances to receive healthcare services earlier. An assessment of the impact of this clinic through a survey conducted at Sohrarim and the villages surrounding it, along with the data from the clinic, showed that this clinic has catered to nearly half of the population served, and the percentage of repeat visitors is high.
In Image: Women waiting for their turn for checkup at Sohrarim Clinic
The Government of Meghalaya has expanded these private clinics to 20 more locations across the State. “We wanted to bring quality healthcare services to people who otherwise would not have access to them,” says Mr. Ramkumar, IAS (Mission Director, National Health Mission; also Nodal Officer, SVM Meghalaya). “The response we received from the community was overwhelming, and it gave us the confidence to expand Gramin healthcare services to other locations.”
Patients like Bitoria are grateful for the care and support they have received from the clinic. “The doctors, nurses, and staff at Gramin Healthcare Clinic are very supportive and caring,” she says. “They take the time to understand the patient’s needs and provide the necessary treatment and care.”
Health Camp at Bajengdoba Village
Gramin Healthcare’s expansion means more people like Victoria will have access to quality healthcare services, regardless of where they live. In the heart of rural Meghalaya, where access to healthcare is often a luxury, a tech-driven, sustainable primary healthcare clinic chain is changing lives. One of the key differentiators of Gramin Clinics is their ability to offer end-to-end services all in one place; when doctors cannot be physically present at the clinic, patients can consult via telemedicine via an online platform. These clinics have become a beacon of hope for those previously unable to access quality healthcare services due to geographical barriers. These clinics use a high-quality, HIPAA-compliant electronic health records system that ensures patient data is secure and accessible to doctors and nurses across all clinics.
Health Camp at Chringpara Village
For rural communities, where healthcare delivery and access are often lacking, introducing a private healthcare clinic like Gramin Healthcare Clinics will help boost primary healthcare services and reduce the burden on tertiary healthcare facilities. While public healthcare facilities are the primary providers of healthcare to the people, these private clinics will serve as a complementary channel for the rural population to access healthcare services closer to their homes.
Health Camp at Chandakona Village
To learn more about Gramin Healthcare, visit www.graminhealthcare.com.
To learn more about Smart Village Movement Initiatives, visit www.smartvillagemovement.org.
About Smart Village Movement: The Smart Village Movement is a collaborative process facilitated by the SVM organization with the Berkeley-Haas Center of Growth Markets to create a Smart Village ecosystem. We partner with Government, Academia, Corporations, and Rural Communities to foster independence and sustainable rural development in Indian villages and other emerging markets. We aim to empower rural people through digital technologies and open innovation platforms to access global markets.