MMU: Mobile Medical Units Are Back In Headlines, Here's Why

MMU: Mobile Medical Units Are Back In Headlines, Here's Why Ambulance - representative image (Wikimedia Commons)
Snapshot
  • According to the current data, on 4 April India recorded 1,03,558 COVID-19 cases—highest since the beginning of the pandemic—and most of the cases were reported in Maharashtra.

While responding to a Tweet from the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on the need for the healthcare staff, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra suggested ideas to work on the solutions.

The Indian billionaire businessman said that a nationwide mobile medical force can be launched to counter the shortage of healthcare workers faced by several states in India during this pandemic.

Anand Mahindra’s response to Thackeray’s tweet comes at a time when India is noticing a massive spike in coronavirus cases. The cases in the country had been falling since September last year but the current surge in infection numbers raised a serious concern.

Staff Shortage Amid The Pandemic

“I have already directed for infrastructure to be added wherever necessary. We can increase the beds, ventilators, oxygen supply and medicine supply. But what about doctors, nurses and medical staff?” wrote the Maharashtra CM.

In response to the tweet, Anand Mahindra said:

According to the current data, on 4 April India recorded 1,03,558 COVID-19 cases—highest since the beginning of the pandemic—and most of the cases were reported in Maharashtra.

Considering the seriousness of the current COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena-led state declared new restrictions including a night curfew and a "strict lockdown" over the weekends from Friday 8 pm to Monday 7 am.

Along with night curfew, the restrictions include a ban on gatherings of five or more throughout the day, while malls, restaurants, bars and places of worship will be closed. But home delivery, essential services, industrial operations and construction activity will be allowed.

However, as per the guidelines, public transport will run at 50 per cent capacity, even though there will be no new restrictions in terms of traffic control.

This decision came after Thackeray led a cabinet meeting to discuss the situation. As per the Centre, eight out of the top 10 worst affected districts in the country are from Maharashtra.

In this situation, Thackeray’s concerns related to lesser number of healthcare staff is legit, as meeting the required number of doctors may not be sufficient.

While in some of the hospitals many healthcare professionals have been working in shifts since the early days of the pandemic, in some places many doctors, as well as, nurses got the infection while doing their duties and were quarantined for several days.

Mobile Medical Unit

However, the idea of a Mobile Medical Unit is not new. In 2015, Jagat Prakash Nadda, now the National President of Bharatiya Janata Party, and then the Union Health Minister said in a statement that MMUs would be the key service strategy to provide proper healthcare to the people who are living in difficult to reach areas.

“I am happy to note that the guidelines are based on reflections and learning over the past few years. States have played a major role in implementing MMUs and rightfully, therefore, the guidelines represent the distillation of valuable lessons from the field,” stated Nadda.

“I am also glad that the guidelines are flexible enough to allow states to plan the coverage and functioning of MMUs so as to truly reach the most difficult areas,” he added.

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