When someone needs immediate medical help, what do you do?


This is the first question I have been asking women living in urban slums in Mumbai as part of a research effort to better understand what they, their family, and community do when a medical emergency occurs. Rubina, my friend and translator will often give the women examples to help them better understand our question. Such as, “what would you do if your father-in-law collapsed with chest pains?” If your child was sick with a high fever?” or If your neighbor cut herself badly with a kitchen knife?”

40% of them respond that they rush to visit the clinic doctor. Clinics, staffed with doctors and nurses are common in most slum communities in Mumbai, however the doctor is rarely available 24 hours a day.

30% of them responded that they would head to the nearest Government Hospital, which they could easily name.

Out of 200 interviews, only 4% of them responded that they would call an ambulance.

Why don’t they call an Ambulance? This is the question ‘Dial 1298 for Ambulance’ is trying to understand. With 30% of Mumbai’s population living below the poverty line (approximately 4M people), this is a segment of the city that cannot be ignored. We are learning some important consumer insights from talking to these women directly.

(FYI – only women were surveyed since most men work during the day and were not available).

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4 Responses to “When someone needs immediate medical help, what do you do?”

  1. chandra Says:

    The reason is often because they know an ambulance cannot wind its way through the narrrow alleys ( if they exist in the first place).
    The same reason why slum fires are so devastating – the fire engines can never reach the site!

  2. joannaharries Says:

    Good point Chandra.

    In Bombay 1298 has a smaller, Omni ambulance for that very purpose, usually there is a dirt road close enough to reach as width of it is not much wider than a rickshaw.

  3. Brian Says:


    This is very interesting and love to see Acumen and Dial 1298 out on the street talking to customers directly. How do you plan on consolidating the insights from the interviews? Is there any quantitative data that you were also collecting? Will there be a follow up with the men as well or do the women make most of these decisions?


  4. joannaharries Says:

    Thanks Brian. Since market research is hard to come by, especially for this segment, we decided to conduct it ourselves. Which worked out well and leveraging partnerships meant low cost.

    The consolidated survey results do provide some quantitative data, and along with the consumer insights are being used to craft a customized pilot outreach effort to this segment.

    No plans to replicate with men, not so much that women are sole decision makers, but that men are not readily available to survey.

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