Aarogya Seva hopes to build a network of doctors and volunteers to get healthcare in areas where it is needed.
Every day we read of villages in India that don’t have even a basic medical clinic, we hear of people who haven’t seen a doctor ever. We also hear of young doctors who refuse to serve in rural areas and want nothing to do with government hospitals. Bridging this gap is what Aarogya Seva hopes to do, providing doctors with a platform to volunteer their services at their convenience.
“I believe healthcare is not a commodity. I have never charged my patients, and I’ve been doing this since I graduated,” says the 30-year-old Dr. Dayaprasad G. Kulkarni, founder-director of Aarogya Seva. Having worked with many international organisations and NGOs including Doctors Without Borders, in Tsunami-torn Nagapattinam for a year, he felt the need, to set up a platform like this to make a more structured contribution. The humanitarian organisation will be formally launched on January 11.
“There is a huge community of doctors who are willing to contribute their time and service, provided they don’t have to mobilise the community and arrange the logistics. There is an equally large population that is willing to accept their services including villages, forested or naxal-afflicted areas, even slums, pockets with migrant workers, government schools…” he says. “No doctor I’ve asked till now has ever said no.”
As of now about 500 doctors from all over the world have signed up to volunteer; 250 of them are from Bangalore, about 100 are from Gulbarga and about 25 from Shimoga. A large chunk of the volunteers are general physicians and paediatricians, psychiatrists, surgeons – both from the allopathic as well as Ayurvedic disciplines.
“Doctors and volunteers can join from wherever they are and contribute to their own surrounding community’s healthcare by committing to do an act of Seva at least once a week. We closely work with the government and tie up with Primary Health Centres and government hospitals, and even procure medicines from them where necessary.” If doctors volunteer within their community, he believes, it’s easier for the doctor, as well as the patient to have follow-up.
One such doctor who has volunteered with Aarogya Seva is Dr. Diwakar Goutham N., a consultant neuro-psychiatrist with Narayana Hrudayalaya. “I was in the U.K. the last 10 years and one of the reasons I returned was to deliver healthcare in places where it’s most needed.” But does a busy doctor like him have the time?
“That’s the beauty of this organisation; it’s flexible. A lot of people can make time. You can make any kind of contribution you want — you can involve in capacity building, training, intervention, educating the public. There’s no one way of doing it; it’s your intent that matters.”
Funding is being raised through corporate entities, individual philanthropists, and from the medical community that may not be able to contribute service but is willing to donate. “We are also looking at building the network to include the nursing community, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacy stores,” says Dr. Kulkarni. “It also helps them to project their contribution as a CSR venture. It doesn’t dent into their profit margins either.”
The organisation also has on board non-medical volunteers who contribute by creating awareness among communities, filling out forms, doing basic height and weight checks in preparation for consultations, and following up with patients.
To volunteer in any way you can, contact Dr. Kulkarni on 9632306256 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org