Taking the hospital to the people
‘Taking the hospital to the people’: The Lifeline Express
IMPACT India’s Lifeline Express Hospital Train comprises a fully equipped operating theatre, diagnostic centre and post-operative ward, teaching facilities, laboratory and workshop.
Using the vast rail network, it is shunted into rural sidings for a few weeks at a time where it becomes the nucleus of a comprehensive attack on causes of disability, involving the whole community. Effective, on-the-spot treatment is offered free of charge, together with health education and immunisation, benefiting thousands of people each year. For further information, please see IMPACT India’s website.
In the 25 years since it has been running across the country, 2016 saw a first for this unique train; A patient suffering from an advanced stage of oral cancer underwent surgery in the mobile hospital on Christmas Eve, only a couple days after he was first examined by the doctors there.
52-year-old Hiralal Lodhi had a tumour in his mouth that has grown sizeably to make his jaws and cheeks appear bloated. He spent months visiting doctors but was asked to pay up additional sums of money for surgery. Although he owns some land, he doesn’t make a living from it, so he had nearly given up hope until he was informed by a neighbour about the Lifeline Express. After receiving the surgery he needed he is recovering well and will continue to be monitored.
The individual IMPACT
Seven year-old Ramal had never seen a train before, let alone a doctor – he thought they were only for rich people! Now he can see clearly once again thanks to surgery on board and is able to keep up in class.
The Lifeline Express has been replicated in China as a gift from the people of Hong Kong and there are now three of these special trains travelling the rails there. In Nepal, many people live in remote villages, where there are few health workers. IMPACT Nepal uses a portable, sterile, tented operating theatre where volunteer surgeons carry out ear and orthopaedic camps in far-flung places.
All of the equipment must be hauled across Nepal’s challenging terrain by Sherpa, 4-wheel drive vehicles or plane. Elsewhere in Asia and Africa, mobile clinics take medical teams into communities and rural surgical centres have been established so that people do not have to travel so far for treatment.
‘Taking the hospital to the people’: The Jibon Tari Floating hospital
Building on the experience of the Lifeline Express, IMPACT launched the ‘Jibon Tari’ (Boat of Life) Floating Hospital in 1999 to take specialist care to riverside communities along 3,000 kilometres of waterway in Bangladesh.
The vessel is 40 metres by 10 metres and built on three decks housing wards, an operating theatre, a training centre, laboratories and even its own water purification plant.
It moors at each site for about 12 weeks and offers surgical and medical care, training and health education. The Jibon Tari’s fame has spread quickly and crowds of people greet it at each site in the hope of treatment. In a country as impoverished as Bangladesh, the need for a service like this is almost limitless.
There is a short film available about IMPACT’s floating hospital in our media library: Ship of Life.
The Individual IMPACT
Mr. Sultan worked as a labourer for approximately 40 pence per day. At night he went fishing to supplement the family’s income. His sight was gradually dimming because of cataracts and, unable to afford to see a doctor, Mr. Sultan’s vision deteriorated to the extent that he could not work. Without income, the family went hungry and his son had to drop out of school. When the Jibon Tari moored nearby Mr. Sultan received sight-restoring surgery onboard. Now he can work once more and his son is continuing his education which will ensure that he has the best opportunities in life too.
NEWS: Jibon Tari featured in Al Jazeera’s ‘The Cure’
IMPACT’s floating hospital in Bangaldesh is featured as part of Al Jazeera’s excellent world health series ‘The Cure’. Watch this inspiring two-part film below. Tweet
£40 is the average cost to IMPACT of each life-transforming operation on board the Jibon Tari