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7 April 2009
New Delhi,India

The self–sufficient hospitals can be air–lifted to any part of the country in two hours and start functioning as soon as it reaches the disaster struck region
India would soon have its own mobile hospitals to deal with emergencies like Tsunami and earthquake and terror attacks like the 26/11 Mumbai incident in the country.

The country has already chalked out plans and is all set to launch five mobile hospitals that could be air lifted to areas that have either been hit by man–made or natural disaster.

These self–sufficient mobile hospitals complete with 200 beds, an intensive care unit (ICU), a laboratory, and a blood bank, would start functioning soon after reaching a site struck by disaster, National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC) steering committee member Shakti Gupta said.

‘One such mobile hospital would cost Rs 30 crore,” he informed adding that the need for such mobile hospital was first felt during the Gujarat earthquake of 2001 that killed 20,000 people and damaged around 3,812 health facilities making it difficult to provide medical aid to the injured.

He further informed that while the country's Home Ministry had initially given an order for two such mobile hospitals, it latter raised the number to five to cover five different zones of India–east, west, south, north and centre.

‘The plan was approved soon after the Gujarat earthquake. When Gujarat saw a series of terror attack, including in a hospital (in July 2008), it was realised that these mobile hospitals could be of great help in providing health facilities even during a terror strike and not just during earthquakes or floods,” he added.

Gupta, who is also the medical superintendent of the Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said that these are self–sufficient hospitals and could be air–lifted to any part of the country within two hours and start functioning soon after reaching the area.

‘Doctors at these mobile hospitals will be completely geared to carry out emergency services, including surgeries, and the hospital will also have medicines and necessary equipments to carry out any medical tests,” he stated.

Gupta said during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake when hospital facilities were destroyed, a private company had provided pre–fabricated hospitals that could be set up in six hours time and start providing medical aid.

‘But the mobile hospitals are better equipped then these pre–fabricated hospitals,” he said.

However, he noted the country sadly lacks network between hospitals.

‘If some emergency occurs, each hospital in an area could be connected to the other so that if there is a need they could provide quick help. Sadly, there is no communication between them,” he said

He said although new buildings, including medical colleges in the country, are now earthquake–resistant but many old ones, including AIIMS, are yet to be equipped to handle a natural disaster like earthquake.

‘The best thing the new hospitals that are coming up could do is shell out just five per cent more money to make their structures disaster–proof. Old ones need to carry out retrofitting in a phased manner to be disaster–proof,” Gupta stressed.

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