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Northeast all set to get India’s first ever air dispensary

India’s Northeast region is all set to get the country’s first-ever “air dispensary” based in a helicopter, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh has said.

The announcement came after Dr Singh, who is also Minister of State PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, shared this novel vision during his address at the Elets 7th Healthcare Leaders Forum (HLF) Delhi on June 30 earlier this year.

“In areas like hilly regions of northeast, Uttarakhand or Jammu and Kashmir, if you could have a helicopter well-equipped with instruments and a doctor then that one doctor can spend his time in three different places in rural or remote area and on his way back he can carry one or two patients who require hospitalisation,” he had said while addressing the who’s who from the healthcare industry at 7th HLF.

Dr Singh has already contributed Rs 25 crore as part of the initial funding for this initiative. The proposal has been accepted by the government and is in the final stages of process in the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

According to the minister, he is keenly pursuing the proposal so that by the beginning of 2018 this could be the Union Government’s gift to the people of Northeast.

As per the envisaged plan, Dr Jitendra Singh said, to begin with, helicopter will be based at two locations, namely Imphal in Manipur and Meghalaya in Shillong.

Both of these cities have premier postgraduate medical institutes from where specialist doctors, along with the necessary equipment and paramedical staff, would be able to move into the helicopter and hold a dispensary/OPD in different locations across the eight States of North Eastern Region.

On its way back, Dr Singh said, the same helicopter can also transport a sick patient, requiring admission, to a city hospital. Giving an account of other new helicopter service plans for Northeast, the minister said that three twin-engine helicopters are planned to be placed for initial operation on six routes in the region around Imphal, Guwahati and Dibrugarh.

Nearly one-third of India’s population does not have access to proper hospital bed care, as a result of which, poor patients living in remote areas remain deprived of crucial medical care.

If found successfull, the Northeast model of “air dispensary” can be emulated in other hill states of the country.

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