Smile on Wheels vans cover the rural or slum areas in the vicinity where either no government health care facilities exist or where those that do exist do not provide sufficient care for the population. Each unit covers the vicinity of up to 25 kms from its centre and visits 2-3 villages a day on a regular basis. In emergency cases, it functions as a referral clinic and an ambulance. The vans are stationed in an urban centre, usually with a static hospital, which acts like a referral medical centre. The team also carries out awareness activities on health and hygiene in order to achieve health seeking behaviour.
Phase – I
Five vans under the first phase of Smile on Wheels has reached 150,000 beneficiaries in a population area of 750,000 covering 249 identified villages across five Indian states (Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Maharasthra).
Phase – II
Two additional mobile hospitals are introduced for the slum population of Delhi and Chennai in 2008. The services provided include OPD, ante-natal/post-natal services, identification of difficult pregnancy and referral for institutional care, immunizations, minor surgery, BP examination, X-ray, ECG, first aid, distribution of Iron folic tablets, Vit-A prophylaxis, and treatment of mal-nutrient cases. The built-in referral network includes both public and private providers and although care is not free, it is heavily subsidized.
SoW moves into the slums/rural areas with concentration of underprivileged people. The project has catered to 3.27 lakhs poor people directly, out of which 44.6% were women and 29.5% were children.
Through optimization of resource utilization the cost is kept to the minimum. On average, the units under SOW charge Rs 10 for OPD, whereas basic blood and urine tests are done at as low as Rs 25. The initiative is financed through a mix of corporate donations, charity hospitals, and volunteer doctors, and receives non-financial support from the government (e.g., free medications). Its vision is to move to a more sustainable model through increased costs and/or increased volume.