Case Study: Expanding Availability of Healthcare Services

NGO Narmada Samagra’s River Ambulance and Water Testing Project, Merck Serono


At Merck, we are committed to expanding sustainable access to high-quality health solutions to underserved populations in developing countries. We leverage our core competencies, expertise, knowledge, and experience across the health value chain in order to address barriers that inhibit access to health in developing countries. We aim to achieve this goal through a strategic focus on our four As of access: availability, affordability, awareness, and accessibility. The NGO Narmada Samagra’s River Ambulance and Water Testing Project is part of our efforts around accessibility that focus on strengthening supply chain and develop localized health solutions to deliver and reach out efficiently at the point of care, thereby providing health workers, communities, and patients with consistent access to health solutions, regardless of their geographic location.

Merck supports the NGO Narmada Samagra with funding and provides much needed medicines and products. The River Ambulance was started in 2007 in Madhya Pradesh, India, with the objective of improving sanitation and pollution of the Narmada’s river banks and waters and to operate the River Ambulance to protect and restore the river and protect the health of the tribes and communities settled around its banks.

Lessons Learned?

Merck’s support of the NGO Narmada Samagra contributes to the stability of the River Ambulance project, which depends on donations and a regular supply of medicines and products. The River Ambulance helps expand access to health services and solutions to underserved tribal and local populations along the Narmada River, who are often by exploited by local primary health centers and city doctors demanding steep fees. The program is scaling up with the addition of one boat donated by Merck who will provide volunteer doctors and support operational expenses to help reach more patients along the river.

Merck has also initiated daily testing of the river’s pollution levels, a new activity as part of this project. Trained local community members will use UN water-testing kits to monitor the river’s pollution levels as a way of informing local populations about its status, thereby aiding in preventative health care.

Results to date?

This initiative will enable an additional 30 villages to have access to health care and solutions and provide treatment for another 80,000 tribes. The River Ambulance is helping to improve health outcomes, the environment along the Narmada River, and the education of local people, including physicians.

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