Mumbai: Mission ICU, a social initiative working exclusively towards building critical care infrastructure in the Tier 2 towns and rural parts of India, has completed the installation of 100 ICU beds in ten months. In February 2022 itself, they embarked on a massive 40-bed installation across four Tier 2 towns in Maharashtra, installing 10 beds each, at Dhule, Sangli, Nanded and Buldhana, bringing the count to 100. This initiative is a crucial step toward strengthening critical care infrastructure across non-metro towns, which are in dire need of support, at present and in the future.
Mission ICU was founded at the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, to bridge the urban and rural gap in critical care infrastructure by identifying under-resourced hospitals in rural India and installing a set of 10 new ICU beds facility to address healthcare emergencies during and beyond the pandemic.
Speaking about the larger vision of Mission ICU, its Co-founder, Dr Ashwin Naik said, “When a pandemic or other natural disasters hit, it is the rural and the remote areas that suffer the most due to lack of healthcare facilities. Growing up in small towns, I know from experience that most people in small towns go to government hospitals for acute and emergency care. Through Mission ICU, our goal is to mobilize the spirit of philanthropy of global corporations and individuals to build a sustainable model of critical care in small towns, specifically by strengthening the public hospital’s infrastructure.”
The initiative has caught the attention of many eminent organisations who came on board to support Mission ICU, including Arogya World, USA, Crypto Relief, United Way Bengaluru, Kantar, Wadhwani Foundation, USAID’s SAMRIDH Health initiative. Across 10 locations, Mission ICU has successfully increased the critical care capacity by 49.7 per cent (an average of total ICU capacity increased compared to the earlier capacity of the hospitals). These installations are estimated to save and impact the lives of 48000 people annually.
With the implementation of robust infrastructure at the heart of the organization, Mission ICU has already been successful in installing 100 ICU beds across the country. Their unique 10 ICU Bed Kit is standardised and includes beds, medical equipment and installation support. They provide an end-to-end solution, right from sourcing funding, to due diligence, hospital selection, equipment procurement, and finally installation. The hospitals participating in this initiative were shortlisted post verification of numerous factors such as the ability to accommodate extra beds, caseload during COVID-19, population ratio and existing medical infrastructure.
Their flagship project was carried out in May 2021 in the Tumkur district of Karnataka, followed by installation in Chikmagalur, Ballari, Gadag and Yadgir. Apart from Karnataka, they expanded their project to other states including Nabarangpur, Odisha and recent installations of four locations in Maharashtra in February 2022, namely Sangli, Dhule, Buldhana, and Nanded making the tally of 100-bed installations in just 10 months. In the coming months, Mission ICU aims to expand its operations in the North East and Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking about the need for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) models to scale initiative and the larger vision of Mission ICU, its co-founder, Maanoj Shah, said, “This Covid wave has exposed the Urban-Rural divide in terms of the critical healthcare infrastructure and this is the time when everyone’s attention is towards building better healthcare infrastructure. At Mission ICU, we are leveraging the PPP (Private Public Partnership) Model to capacitate Rural District Hospitals with state of art ICU Beds that will create a sustainable impact that will last beyond COVID-19. We have reached the first milestone of deploying 100 ICU Beds and our target is to reach 1000 ICU Beds across Rural India.”
As of 2020, the rural population in India amounted to 65.07 per cent of the total population, as per the data from World Bank. However, 75 per cent of India’s healthcare infrastructure is found in urban areas. With a 137 per cent increase in its 2021-22 budget allocation for health and well-being, India is slowly moving towards its goal of developing robust healthcare infrastructure. Mission ICU, with its ambitious vision of bridging the gap between rural and urban areas, is on a tireless journey towards identifying inadequacies and addressing pain points with its cutting-edge ICU bed facilities.
Long-term Vision: Going forward, Mission ICU aims to grow into a social franchise by creating a toolkit that can be adopted by any organisation (private, public, or other) to create such 10 ICU Beds Kits across the country. They are also creating a database with updated ICU bed availability for each district in the country so that donors and partner organizations can get a clear picture of which districts need more ICU support. The goal is to scale to a national level so India can have a stronger medical infrastructure in rural areas.