Northeast to get India's first 'air dispensary'

Poor patients living in remote areas remained deprived of medical care, said union minister Jitendra Singh

GN Bureau | November 13, 2017


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India’s northeast is all set to get the country’s first "air dispensary", which will be in a helicopter.

The ministry of development of northeast (DONER) has contributed Rs. 25 crore as part of the initial funding for this initiative.

Union minister Jitendra Singh said, for quite a few months, the DoNER Ministry had been exploring the idea of introducing a helicopter based dispensary/OPD service in such far flung and remote areas, where no doctor or medical facility was available and the patient, in need, also did not have any access to any medical care.

The proposal put forward by the ministry of DoNER, he said, has been accepted and is in the final stages of process in the civil aviation ministry.

The minister said that they are keenly pursuing the proposal so that by the beginning of 2018, this could be the union government’s gift to the people of northeast.

He said that even today, nearly 1/3rd of India’s population did not have access to proper hospital bed care, as a result of which, poor patients living in remote areas remained deprived of crucial medical care. The experiment being introduced in the northeast can also be emulated in other hill states having difficult topography like Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, he added.

Jitendra Singh said, to begin with, the helicopter will be based at two locations, Imphal in Manipur and Meghalaya in Shillong. Both 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, he said, the same helicopter can also transport a sick patient to a city hospital.

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