We were at the first mile in the last mile. Our car driver whom we lovingly called Nattu was in high spirits praising the new road which has recently found a new shape after the smoothen pitch. Soon his sunlit smile faded when the road started getting narrow after taking first few turns from the NH6 Highway. The journey continued, and my heart sank, more we drove in. The road was getting narrower and almost disappearing now and then. However, the golden wheat fields, field laden with marigold flowers, and the untamed river that followed us assured me of the hope that there is a way beyond. I was led by two team members who drove the motorbike, carefree but determined of the road ahead and the founder of the ‘Unicorn’, acknowledged as the ‘100 most Influential Leader 2020’ continuing his untiring efforts of handling the venture’s responsibilities over the phone, while I waited impatiently for the journey to get over through the narrow trails.
Finally, the stop arrived at a primary school in an unknown little village in Gologram in West Bengal. iKure’s mobile medical team was already in full gear attending the patients that have gathered for the eye and medical check-up. Two Doctors, with a Paramedicine staff, Health Worker, and Program in- Charge were busy registering patient’s vitals using AI enabled health tech devices.
Locational factors have an important bearing on the potential of healthcare supplies. In urban poor and remote locations, it is difficult for healthcare systems to attain the demands of critical services. Most of the journeys made by our beneficiaries are at substantial risk of fatal outcomes during emergency cases. Therefore for iKure, it is important to provide access to primary healthcare facilities through mobile medical teams that are usually set up in schools or in local administrative offices.
The pandemic in India is witnessing its second wave, people are creeping out of their shelters, still hesitant to explore beyond their safe zone, but this medical team has a message for all of us. Inspiring as they accept risk as part of their chosen job roles, hardly exhibiting concerns on their routine door-step schedule, at iKure’s medical camps and in hubs. The immense accreditations and support to fulfill the mission of iKure ‘Creating zero mortality in primary healthcare’ through their hands and the unwavering determination of their hearts is enough to bring smiles to our beneficiaries during the challenging times of the COVID-19.
Primary healthcare is the first line of defense to keep people safe. The primary healthcare system has the capacity to diagnose, track, and contain community outbreaks while providing essential services.
iKure is prioritizing its regular services through technology innovations, mass screening operations, and research interventions that use primary data to help identify and address the gaps and laying a strong foundation for primary healthcare to protect people from the next health threats.
iKure has treated more than a million patients with plans to open 200 clinics in the next three to four years. It is already offering health-tech solutions in Vietnam with plans to serve in other South-east Asian countries like Cambodia, Philippines, and Indonesia.
The journey way back home was different. I found Nattu’s face lit up again while he shared one of his journeys with the iKure’s medical team in Keshiary, in remote West Bengal. He recalled, he had to carry back home the team through a bamboo bridge that was half immersed due to the flood. Fearing the car might not find its way underneath the water, they waited till 2:00 am for the water to subside. And finally, when they returned, it was time again for another journey.
It might come across for many that Ratan Tata’s investment has been easy for iKure. But the immense trade-off, patience, and teamwork go without saying, they haven’t had it all yet. While the team is gearing up to scale-up and expand its operations, this investment is a huge encouragement for iKure as they believe, iKure’s services will make the real difference for the people who need it most, as access to primary healthcare will be the corner stone to confront the pandemic and the situation beyond it.
Dr. Tirumala Santra Mandal
Sr. Research and Communication Analyst
141-A, Jodhpur Garden, Near South City Mall, Kolkata - 700045, West Bengal, India
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