Lifeline Express, the world’s first hospital on a train which uses Indian Railways network to take free public health services to remote rural locations in the country, has been given two more coaches for performing cancer and family planning operations.
Started in 1991 as a partnership between NGO Impact India Foundation and Railways, the five-coach train is equipped with an operation theatre and sophisticated gadgets to conduct surgeries for cleft palate, cataract removal, orthopaedic and ear ailments. The team has treated more than a million patients and conducted 1 lakh surgeries free of cost across 19 states, including Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The team has set a benchmark in cleft and cataract surgeries in the areas it visited, railways officials said.
Based on specifications given by the NGO, Southern Railway will modify two more coaches in Perambur in Chennai to install equipment for conducting surgeries for cancers of the breast, mouth and cervix, as well as family planning surgeries, said Dr Rajnish Gourh, chief executive of Lifeline Express. The new coach will have a mammography machine costing around 1 crore, he said.
“Many rural areas, especially in the north-east region, are poor when it comes to proper diagnosis of cancer. Especially with breast cancer, rural women have some kind of a psychological block. For example, we discovered that women in several tribal regions are reluctant to report a lump in their breast (a symptom of breast cancer). We are trying to reach out to such locations and create awareness that it is a curable condition,” said Gourh. Lifeline Express solicits help from the local public health officials.