Program Perspectives: Manju Singh from Smile-on-Wheels
Improving access to care with privately-funded mobile clinics
How do programs overcome challenges? We asked Manju Singh, the assistant general manager of the Smile Foundation, a charity providing direct medical services to rural or slum areas with insufficient government facilities. Medical professionals travel in 30 bright green and yellow vehicles to serve women and children, providing services including antenatal care and minor surgery. It also serves as an ambulance in cases where an patient needs access to a hospital.
What is one challenge your organization got over in recent years? How did you deal with it?
The health component of our foundation, Smile on Wheels, is based on a partnership model where every partner has financial stakes. As you are aware, community health programme has largely been a government domain and all such initiatives are highly subsidized. Even NGOs working in the field are subsidy oriented. Hence it was a big challenge to identify the right partners in the programme who are resourceful, focused and give importance to sustainability. We have struggled hard to identify the right organizations during the earlier period in financing the programme as well as to become partners in the programme for implementation. But we took it as a challenge, studied the market and identify corporations, organizations, and NGOs who shall be interested to participate and have been fairly successful in taking it forward.
Tell us about one innovative aspect of Smile on Wheels (SOW).
The current operational model of SOW is derived from the SMILE’s philosophy of “Progress through Partnership”, involving stakeholders including community and civil societies through which we have been successfully implementing this concept at the grassroots level from last 4 years, sets it apart. Also to date, SOW, is implemented with almost no direct aid from government or aid from agencies. This makes it perhaps the only chain of mobile hospital run by a private charity in the country. Further, the partnership helps in diversifying the risk and giving maximum return to all investors for every unit of money spent.
See some of those giving to SOW at this testimonial site.
Smile's league of institutional alliances.