After “The Darjeeling Limited”: “The Lifeline Express”
The Lifeline Express is an Indian hospital on rail. managed by the Indian NGO ‘Impact India Foundation’, these seven railway carriages with two operating theatres provide medical interventions free of charge for the poorest people and those in isolated zones or areas with little. Since 1991, more 600 000 disabled people have been treated for unnecessary disabilities such as clubfoot and musculature issues, middle ear complications, cataracts, tooth issues and cleft palate. In the train, 40 voluntary physicians perform X-rays, cancer screenings, and restore mobility, vision, hearing and correct of facial deformities.
Staying about one month by district, they also have time to train doctors and local populations about the latest in medicine and hygiene. The Lifeline Express received United Nations’ Grand Award for Excellence in Public Service in 1993, and other countries (China and South Africa) have developed the same concept.
But do we feel comfortable with the idea that the seventh-largest economy in the world leave health care to an NGO? According to data from the World Bank, in 2015 India spent less than 3.9% of its GDP in health expenditures, positioning it in the last decile. For a matter of comparison, China spent 5.3%, Liberia 15% and Brazil 8.9%. More dramatically, 73% of health expenditures are not supported by any health insurance and directly paid by the patient. Consequently, an important part of the population is far from any health system. This could explain why, according UNICEF, about 1.2 M children died of preventable causes in the country in 2015 before their fifth birthday.
We might hope that economic growth will bring much more care in its train.
Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science
Sources: Beyond Ratings, Impact Norway, Le Monde.