A healthcare facility by the people and for the people

Dr Chikkamuniyappa was never happy with the current healthcare system in the country.

Bengaluru: This is a story of a doctor with lofty ideals who made his dream of providing affordable healthcare to the the needy possible by sheer dint of hard work and persistence.

Seeing his project through took 45-year-old Dr Chandrasekar Chikkamuniyappa years and he had to knock on the doors of every friend and relative before raising funds. Now, his dream is real, and People Tree Hospitals has been accomplishing what it set out to do.

Dr Chikkamuniyappa, a joint replacement surgeon at the hospital, says, “It was not easy. I used to knock at every door with my presentation and slideshows, only to be rejected by majority. I still can't believe this hospital is open and has some 150 doctors working with us.”

A recipient of the National Merit Scholarship and other recognitions throughout his education, Dr Chikkamuniyappa did his graduation and post-graduation from Bangalore Medical College.

“I was not born with a silver spoon and was from a very tiny village some 100 km from Bengaluru. From those days to completing my education at MES College and then Bangalore Medical College in English medium is sometimes hard to believe,” he says with a smile.

Dr Chikkamuniyappa, who received a scholarship from the British Council to further his specialty, was never happy with the current healthcare system in the country.

“It is sad that hospitals are no longer patient driven but profit driven. Since I come from a village, I always wanted to focus on the healthcare needs of the poor who cannot even afford to pay the consultation fee.” So, the hunt for the funds began. “Anyone who told me about any prospective investor, I would go knocking on his doors," he says with a laugh.

After a long and hard struggle, the hospital started in 2013 on a budget of Rs 50 crore which was given by family, friends and fellow surgeons from all around the globe.

“This proof of concept project is the dream child of young doctors who have super-specialised from some of the world's best hospitals and returned to India with the noble intention of giving back to their society. It has been quite a journey as I had no money or savings left in the bank when I started the hospital and today we have a footfall of some 600 patients or more every day at the main hospital. We have also started a foundation to raise money, again from the people, for complex and expensive surgeries,” he says.

“The People Tree Foundation was also started with the aim to empower people by providing services spanning the fields of health, education, and health education. It is a unique non-profit organisation established by a group of young enterprising doctors, who have set themselves out to realise a disease and disability-free India," he says.

"My main belief is that if someone needs treatment then there is someone somewhere willing to help. All it needs is reaching out. We have seen successful surgeries happening and people coming forward after they see our Facebook posts and videos about such patients needing money,” he says.

"We just completed 100 successful surgeries for free and are now conducting the second round of free surgeries," he says with a pride. The foundation also supports free education for poor children.

From conducting screening camps to holding surgeries for free, the hospital has definitely come to the aid of the needy. However, this doctor's vision is bigger. “Healthcare reforms in India need significant experimentation and innovation to determine what would work.

We cannot really look at other country's models, as our situation, scenario and problems are unique to us. Nowhere in the world there is a country with a billion people that needs an urgent quality healthcare. We have limited resources, a fragmented delivery system with a huge variation in practices and guidelines across the board, and loss of public trust in healthcare providers. We need to also bring the public faith back in us,” he says.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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