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Tech tab on mobile medical fleet

Mobile Medical Units, the hi-tech hospitals on wheels, can no longer fake their presence in or visit to villages.

For, several such units in the state are now enabled with Global Positioning System (GPS) due to which their movements can be easily tracked.

The state at present has 100 mobile units to make healthcare facilities available in the remotest pockets of 24 districts.

Of these, 47 in Bokaro, Deoghar, Dhanbad, Giridih, Jamtara, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, Palamau, Ramgarh, Ranchi and Simdega have been made GPS-enabled.

The health department has equipped these medical units with GPS to keep tabs on their movement and ensure that they are functioning properly.

“The best part about GPS installation is that we can track the entire route which the van is taking. The medical staff on board can no longer come up with false claims that they visited a particular area and attended to their duties,” said Akay Minz, state programme manager (acting), Jharkhand Rural Health Mission (JHRM) on Tuesday.

Minz added that the units were connected with the control room at JHRM office in Ranchi.

The “hospitals on wheels” operate under the Mission and offer diagnostic and curative facilities like X-ray, pathological tests and ultrasound facilities. Manned by a pathologist, technician and physician, the mobile medical units provide service at least 22 days in a month. The basic aim is to keep a check on maternal and infant mortality rates in the rural pockets.

The route chart of a particular unit is planned in consultation with the civil surgeon and programme manager of the respective districts.

Sources in the Mission, however, said that GPS work was going behind schedule.

Praveen Chandra, director in chief, state health services, acknowledged it. “It is true that GPS enabling work is going on at a slow pace, but at least 47 of them have the facility now. We are expecting that by the end of this fiscal, the location of all the mobile medical units can be tracked down,” Chandra added.

In 2012, the ministry of health and family welfare had directed the Jharkhand government to ensure universal availability of GPS-fitted mobile medical units, a plan that was mooted by the state itself in 2011.

In 2011, a tender was floated to select an agency for the purpose. “The plan was nipped in the bud because the scope of work was not properly defined,” observed a JHRM officer.

In 2013, the JRHM handed over the task to Jharkhand Space Application Centre.