Where do you get your health information from? Do you pop to the doctor if you have a query, visit the local pharmacist or simply look online?

Research suggests that most people in the UK have a health facility within 1.2 miles, but in the state of Bihar in northern India people must travel an average of 62 miles.

Bihar is India’s third most populous state reaching 100 million inhabitants, 85 per cent of whom live in rural areas.

The question arises, how do you deliver health information to 85 million people in remote areas? A van, which takes health education to the people. Our health education vans travel the roads of the rolling flatlands of Bihar to reach places even Google Maps haven’t discovered yet.

Setting out on the road for 20 days at a time, the van can cover between 50-70 miles a day reaching some of the poorest, most isolated communities in the country.

A driver, assistant and member of our staff head out on the road equipped with flip charts, pictures and information leaflets informing people of the symptoms of diseases such as leprosy, tuberculosis and lymphatic filariasis.

Parked in the centre of the village, health messages and pictures adorn the side of the vans.

In 2013 almost 20,000 cases of leprosy were reported in Bihar, and the state also sadly holds claim to 17 per cent of India’s lymphatic filariasis cases.

Both diseases, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to life-changing disabilities.

Thanks to our vans and dedicated staff, more people are diagnosed and treated early because they are aware of the symptoms.

As the day comes to a close and night starts to set in, the van transforms into a mobile cinema. A screen rolls down to display entertaining but informative films to the local community. With 50 per cent of the population being illiterate, films are one of the best ways to spread information.

Most communities anticipate the visit with excitement and now invite the vans to return again and again.

We have two of these vans in Bihar, reaching 10.8 million people in 4,000 villages. We have seven in total, traversing the states of India we work in, but we need to reach so many more. 

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