Maharashtra Government’s Ambulance project to get global recognition

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23 Feb 2019, Pune: Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS-Dial 108), the public-private-partnership ambulance of project of Government of Maharashtra has been selected for presentation to 23 countries, as the best practice in digital health initiatives.

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) has organized the Fourth Global Digital Health Partnership (GDHP) Summit in Delhi from 25thto27thFebruary 2019.

This is the fourth edition of the GDHP and also the first time India is hosting this event. The first three editions were held in Canberra-Australia, Washington DC-US, and London-UK. Government representatives from 23 countries attend the GDHP. The member countries discuss and share best initiatives in healthcare that use data and technology and also share know how to implement them in their respective areas.

MEMS-Dial 108 is a unique emergency medical ambulance project of the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Maharashtra. Through a network of 937 fully equipped medical ambulances spread across the state, the government provides free medical care to all its citizens during any medical emergency. The ambulances are accessible to all citizens free of cost, on a toll-free call to the number 108 from any mobile and landline from within Maharashtra. Pune-based BVGIndia Limited and London-based UKSAS are the implementing partners of MEMS for the Government of Maharashtra. BVG is the leader and pioneer of integrated services in India.

BVG also has set up a state of the art Control Room in Pune. The control room operates 24 x7 all calls from across Maharashtra, wherein the expert call handlers’ understand the emergency and connect the patient to the doctor in the ambulance and dispatch the nearest ambulance to rescue the patient.

The 108 emergency services cover all the urban, rural and remotest of places of the state with a well-equipped trained and expert team. For the record Andhra Pradesh is the second state after Maharashtra to implement the project in association with BVG. AP kicked off the project in 2017. BVG also has set up a state of the art Control Room at the state capital of Amravati.

Maharashtra has emerged as the only state in India to showcase their success story. The 108 ambulance service system is Pan India project executed by all the state governments.

Commenting on the development, Mr.Hanmantrao Gaikwad, Chairman & Managing Director (CMD), BVG India Limited, “It is a proud moment for Maharashtra and India that a home-grown public service project like MEMS is chosen by WHO and Union Ministry of Health to showcase before other countries. I am sure our learnings from running the emergency ambulance services will be extremely beneficial to these countries for running similar services there.”

Started in January 2014 in Maharashtra, the MEMS has received 1.54 crore calls, and has served 37 lakh emergency patients till date. This includes over 3 lakh cases of vehicle accident and around 9 lakh pregnancy related cases. Over 30,000 childbirths have taken place in the ambulances.

Mr. Gaikwad further said, “Emergency medical care is of paramount importance across the world. MEMS has reached service levels which now can serve benchmarks in the emergency medical ambulatory care sector. The core of emergency medical services is the availability of medical care in the ‘golden hour’, which is the first 60 minutes after any medical emergency. At MEMS, we are now reaching emergency patients in average 18 minutes in urban areas and in average 22 minutes in rural areas, from the time of receiving the call.”

These learnings of MEMS will serve as great help to the participating countries, which include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan, Republic of Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine, Uruguay, along with members of the World Health Organization.