New ‘slumbulance’ within reach

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of the donors who have supported our crowdfunding campaign for a new ‘slumbulance’ in India. With around a quarter of the required amount now raised, FAIRMED is a little closer to being able to purchase a new mobile clinic. However, further support is needed in order to reach the goal of 10,000 francs.

The mobile clinics – also known as ‘slumbulances’ – have been a model of success. Unfortunately, the vehicles come with an expiry date: due to its advancing age, one of the buses has lost its permit for use on public roads. FAIRMED is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a new vehicle. In the manner of such campaigns, we are not only turning directly to our donors for support, but also the general public. Since the launch three months ago, around one quarter of the full amount has been reached. The campaign is also supported by the FAIRMED country office in India, which carries out its own independent fundraising. If everything goes according to plan, in the first quarter of 2018 the crowdfunding campaign will receive a grant from an Indian foundation. However, we are still dependent on the support of donors for around half of the total cost.

Winning the leprosy battle with a ‘slumbulance’
“We are in the slum every day with our two buses, at a total of 15 locations. The poorest of the poor can come to us and undergo examination for skin problems. Because the state does not undertake any leprosy-related activities, we are the only ones who can help them get a screening for leprosy. We regularly discover new cases,” explains Ethel D'Souza, who heads the Indian self-help organisation LSS (Lok Seva Sangam). With the support of FAIRMED, LSS operates two mobile clinics, so-called ‘slumbulances’, in Mumbai’s Bainganwadi slum. Over the last five months, over 55,000 people have visited the slumbulances, where they have access to medical assistance. One of the slumbulances is now in urgent need of replacement. Years of use and thick rust means that the bus can no longer be repaired.

Poor hygiene encourages spread of diseases
”The hygiene conditions in the Bainganwadi slum are extremely poor, which encourages the spread of neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy: “The slum is filthy and located directly alongside the largest rubbish dump in the city. And while it has recently gained access to water, it is not actually drinkable,” says Ethel D'Souza.” The inhabitants of the slum live in dark tin huts in extremely cramped conditions, together with their livestock and cats.” These people live in great poverty and cannot afford an examination in a state institution. This is where the slumbulances from FAIRMED and LSS really come into their own. The mobile clinics make their way through the narrow alleyways of the slum, providing examinations and treatments to residents.

Stigmatisation and social exclusion
The number of registered cases of leprosy in India has been increasing for some years. In order to protect them from the typical disfigurements, as well as from social exclusion and stigmatisation, infected individuals must receive timely diagnosis and treatment. LSS also offers physiotherapy for people who are already suffering from leprosy-related disabilities or mutilations as a consequence of late diagnosis and treatment. “To date, we can only perform physiotherapy at five out of 15 locations and thereby offer an actual leprosy reference center. Our aim one day is to be able to carry out comprehensive leprosy treatment at all these sites,” says Ethel D'Souza. To do this, however, LSS urgently requires a new slumbulance.

We have started a crowdfunding campaign to finance the purchase of a new bus. With your support, the project can be continued and perhaps even expanded.