India’s healthcare system was ranked 112 out of 190 countries by*WHO (World Health Organisation) in its 2000 report.
It’s estimated that people have to cover 70% out of pocket expenses. This high cost has driven many people in slums and poorer urban areas, to not seek medical care.
The demand for basic medical services in underprivileged communities is high. As diseases such as HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and diarrhoea are on the increase.
Combined with poor sanitary conditions, only makes these issues worst.
It is every person’s right to receive basic healthcare. It shouldn’t only be available to people who can afford it. – Amanda Ray
I believe every Government must provide its citizens with basic healthcare, shelter, food and education. To do otherwise, is a disgrace… abuse and total lack of compassion against humanity.
So when I received Dr Sunil Kumar Hebbi email asking me to share his story. I immediately said yes.
I have put this transcript together in the form of an interview, after several emails going back and forth. Due to the length of the transcript, I have spilt it into several interviews.
AR – Dr Sunil Hebbi can you explain what the foundation does?
Dr Sunil Hebbi – As a doctor I became frustrated and disgusted in our lack of healthcare in India.
I thought that there had to be a way to provide free or low cost medical care to people.
But it wasn’t until I came upon a car accident, some 7 years ago that motivated me to do something about it.
That’s when I created Matru Siri Foundation offering free or low cost medical care and treatments.
AR – What was different about this accident? I mean surely, as a doctor who travels a lot, this wouldn’t have been an unusual occurrence.
Dr Sunil Hebbi – No, it isn’t unusual. But this accident deeply affected me.
I was driving on a busy road when I witness the accident. There was an injured man on the road, he was bleeding and no medical help came to his aid.
As a Doctor it is my moral responsibility to help people whether I’m on duty or not. So I got my first aid kit out and gave him the necessary care, to stabilise him.
It was at that point I realised that there were many people, just like him in need of medical attention who couldn’t afford it. I made up my mind then and there, to dedicate my time to service people who lack access to basic health care facilities.
AR – That’s commendable of you. I wish we had more people like you in the world.
Dr Sunil Hebbi – thank you, but I took an oath to save lives so I’m just doing my job.
AR – So Doctor Sunil Hebbi, can you tell our readers what type of services you provide?
Dr Sunil Hebbi – The foundation provides free or low cost medical attention to people living in economically backward class. We conduct medicals in camps every week, government schools, old age homes, slums, construction sites and local communities.
We are now providing first aid training, awareness about organ donation and basic health talks.
AR – You said; we does that mean you have others helping you?
Dr Sunil Hebbi – Yes, I realised that in order to reach as many people as I could, I’ll need volunteers and other Doctors willing to help.
I am fortunate, that my Doctor friends also felt the same way. So we started out with a team of Doctors who are just as relentless in the pursuit of providing basic health care to people in camps and slums.
Once we got started, word soon spread about what we were doing and before I knew it, we had many people offering to volunteer. The volunteers assist with organising people, taking their details and other such things.
AR – What type of difficulties do you face regularly? And, how do you think you can overcome them?
Dr Sunil Hebbi – The main difficulty is shortage of medicines, transportation expenses and obtaining medical equipment.
Through awareness of what the foundation does, we are hoping to receive donations from Pharmacies, Medical supply companies for medications and equipment.
AR – I understand you have to go but before you do, can you tell the readers approx. how many people your foundation has helped?
Dr Sunil Hebbi – I’m pleased to say, that many people we have treated, didn’t even know they had anything wrong. They just ignored or neglected the problem believing it would go away. Some used self-medication but not of the legal kind.
So we were able to diagnosis the problem, treat it with the right medication at a low cost. When we went back to review them, they were healthy and more productive at work which meant more money because they weren’t missing days off work due to illness.
At the moment, we have organised around 700 medical camps and treated around 30,000 patients in Bangalore rural and urban areas.
AR – That’s an amazing figure, 30,000 people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to basic medical care.
Thank you Dr Sunil Hebbi for your time and I look forward to discussing your other projects next time.
Dr Sunil Hebbi – Thank you, Amanda for your encouragement and moral support, your writing is inspiring and thoughtful.
Next week Dr Sunil Hebbi will tell us about his other humanitarian projects. He is also seeking permission from patients to share their stories on how much the foundation has improved their lives.
If you can help Dr Sunil Kumar Hebbi’s foundation, then please contact him directly.