Dr. Sunil Hebbi, a former resident of Mamadapur, a small village in Northern Karnataka, moved to Bengaluru a decade ago and started working in a private hospital. One day on his way home, Sunil witnessed a road accident on a busy road. The victim was surrounded by people but none of them had any training or first aid kit to assist under such situations. Sunil treated the victim with the help of a first aid kit which he always carries in his car. The injured could have lost his life while waiting for an ambulance followed by a long way to the hospital but a small medical kit saved his life. As a doctor, Sunil did his best and family members of the accident victim thanked him multiple times. Sunil was overwhelmed with their blessings. He could understand the pain of family members who possibly would have lost one family member or end up spending a lot of money on shelter in hospital parking.
The incident changed Sunil’s life entirely. He realized that healthcare is our basic need. It is easily conceivable from this example that a person’s life can be saved with the help of a simple first aid kit. After the incident, Sunil decided to provide free medical treatments to people in need. He contacted some of his friends and started organizing free health checkup camps over the weekends. He bought basic medical equipments and diagnostic tools and converted his car into a mobile clinic. After sometime, it was difficult for him to manage a full-time job with weekend mobile clinics. Therefore, he quit his services in the private hospital.
Sunil decided to dedicate his life towards providing free healthcare. He formed a non-profit organization, “Matrusiri Foundation”, which is running successfully for the past 12 years. He has adopted schools, old age homes and construction workers to organize regular primary health checkups under the umbrella of his foundation. He also provides free medicines and a follow up consultation. His volunteer team finds people in need and accordingly he goes to a village to provide free medical assistance with his mobile clinic.
There are around 1,200 non-medical and 350 medical volunteers working with Matrusiri Foundation. Sunil is able to provide free medicines to patients as some companies, medical representatives and doctors donate physician samples to his organization. His organization also provides a health card to patients. The card has basic medical information including allergies and family member contact information of patients such that the patient can be treated wisely in case of emergency and when he/she fails to answer doctor’s primary questions.
Right to Health
While organizing health camps, Sunil realized that people are not aware of their health rights. Many countries such as Cuba, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have Right to Health. At present, India spends around 1.25% of its GDP on health, whereas, Word Health Organization recommends a minimum expenditure of 6% of GDP. Only increased expenditure on health will lead us towards Right to Health. Sunil has started advocating for this right of the Indian citizens. He talked to his fellow doctors, policy makers, and politicians, and fortunately everyone agreed on having a Right to Health Act which is missing in our country.
Right to Health Yatra
We lose one life every 15 seconds in the slums. Lack of awareness about healthcare is another reason that our policy makers are least interested in improving the state of our healthcare. To increase the understanding of people on Right to Health, Sunil will be organizing a “Right To Health Yatra” where he will be travelling across India with his mobile clinic. On Feb 26 (tentative), he will start his cross country journey from Press Club, Bengaluru. First, he will go to Kanyakumari, then march towards Jammu & Kashmir. 6,000 kilometers and a 30 days long journey will have multiple stops in different cities of India. Sunil will be organizing health checkup camps and public lectures in these cities. He will also carry a draft of Right to Health policy which answers the basic question of “why we need right to health?” with some data and examples from other countries.
While meeting with public, he will educate them and appeal to them to contact their local leaders. He will also visit the offices of local MP/MLA to talk about the need of Right to Health. In order to make the event a big success, Sunil is partnering with NGOs and reaching out to friends from different parts of India who are working in the health sector. Sunil will also be visiting schools, colleges, universities, NGO offices and old age homes to organize public lectures followed by free health checkup. Sunil’s cross country campaign will follow the routes mentioned below:
Flagoff at Bengaluru Press Club
Bengaluru to Hosur (Tamil Nadu) to Kanyakumari: Hosur, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Dindigul, Karur, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Hosur and Bengaluru
Bengaluru to Hyderabad: Bengaluru, Penukonda, Anantapur, Gooty, Kurnool, Hyderabad
Hyderabad to Nagpur: Hyderabad, Nirmal, Adilabad, Pandharkawada, Hinganghat, Nagpur
Nagpur to Agra: Nagpur, Seoni, Narsingpur, Sagar, Lalitpur, Jhansi, Datia, Gwalior, Morena, Dolpur, Agra
Agra to Delhi: Agra, Mathura, Hoodal, Faridabad, Greater Noida, Noida, Delhi
Delhi to Pathankot: Delhi, Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Pathankot
Pathankot to Srinagar: Pathankot, Kathua, Jammu, Katra, Udhampur, Patnitop, Ramban, Ramsoo, Banihal, Qazigund, Anantnag, Bijbehera, Pampore, Srinagar
For the “Right to Health Yatra”, Sunil is looking for more volunteers who can help him in organizing this event in different parts of India. If you live in any of the cities mentioned above and want to contribute, you can contact Sunil on facebook or message/WhatsApp on +91-9741958428. You can also follow the facebook page of Matrusiri Foundation for regular updates on Right to health Yatra.
Focus on Preventive Measures
Either it is due to the lack of basic health infrastructure or lack of information, our government invests a lot of resources on the curative and treatment aspects of health. If it designs a healthcare infrastructure which is primarily focused on preventive measures, about 70% of diseases can be treated before they reach the level of secondary treatment. Higher level of treatment also costs more to the consumers. Sunil really admires the newly built Mohalla Clinics in Delhi. The Mohalla Clinics are available at a walking distance and are focused on preventive measures and treatments.
Apart from working for Matrusiri Foundation, Sunil also runs a clinic named “Ayushmanbhava Clinic” from 6 – 9 pm in Bengaluru which is very similar to the Mohalla Clinics in Delhi. He provides basic medicine, doctor consultation and basic diagnostics at a cost of Rs 100 to 150. Similar services costs more than Rs 500 in private hospitals. Sunil believes that such a low cost clinic model can be implemented at a larger scale. For governments, this model won’t cost a lot, and for private practitioners, the sustainable and profitable model can be established at a cost of less than Rs 150 per patient. At present, Sunil’s Ayushmanbhava Clinic operates with a staff of only three people: himself as doctor, a nurse, and an attendant. Such clinics can be setup with a maximum initial capital of Rs 2 lakhs and can operate within Rs 1.5 lakhs/month towards staff salaries, medicines, operation, and maintenance.
If you want any help in establishing a clinic similar to “Ayushmanbhava Clinic” in your area or want to help Dr. Sunil Hebbi in Right to Health initiative, please contact him on +91-9741958428.
Watch this video to know more about Dr. Sunil Hebbi and his initiative.