IT’S been more than 14 years since Dr Nidhi Chaudhary started working in the public health sector with national and international NGOs, WHO and UNICEF on health of poor and marginalised communities. And with the help of these years of experience, the social entrepreneur is trying to provide equitable quality health services to the urban poor.
A fellowship participant with the School of Social Entrepreneurs, New Delhi, Chaudhary has opened doors to her heath start-up — The Tarang Clinics — under her Navya Tarang Foundation.
Tarang Clinic is a primary health care outpatient clinic located in Ramdarbar market in Phase 2 — a rehabilitation colony in Chandigarh.
As the name suggests, Navya Tarang is a new wave of change. “Through our network, we want to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure on health for urban poor by providing quality curative, preventive and promotive primary health services at an affordable cost,” says the doc.
Chandigarh alone has nearly 265,000 population in rehabilitation colonies and 70,000 in unauthorised colonies (Census 2011).
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“These are serviced by unqualified practitioners and there is near absence of any significant qualified private sector providers in these rehabilitation colonies,” said Chaudhary.
At the Tarang Clinic, the OPD operates between 9am – 8 pm by two doctors on pro bono basis — Dr Sunita Gupta (MBBS), retired from Himachal Pradesh government services with experience in primary health care (especially women and children) and Dr B B Gupta (MBBS, MS Ortho) from Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, who manages injury and orthopaedic cases. “We have two trained staff nurses and I see patients too,” added Chaudhary.
Co-started with her sister, Vidhi Bhatia, an entrepreneur and interior designer, Dr Chaudhary invested nearly Rs two lakh from personal savings into the first clinic that started this October 1.
“The idea to serve people has been there ever since I graduated out of Christian Medical College, Vellore, but it started taking shape when I moved back to Chandigarh from Delhi in 2012,” shares Dr Chaudhary, her main challenge being managing her time between this and her professional work on the side.
Meanwhile, there has been a steady flow of patients at the clinic. The consultation fee is between Rs 30 and 50, medicines at a discounted rate and for laboratory tests and radio diagnosis, Dhanwantry Hospital, a charitable hospital has been roped in. A no-profit model, the money is reinvested in the clinic to make it self-sustainable.
One of Chaudhary’s primary concerns is also to reduce preventable deaths in children and mothers.
“Less than one-third of pregnant women receive full antenatal care in Chandigarh. Nearly 60% of children of less than five years and 45% pregnant women suffer from anaemia,” she states.
A hub and spoke model, Tarang Clinics aims at opening six primary health care outpatient clinics for urban poor settlements in the Tricity and one multispecialty clinic in Chandigarh.
The future also sees use of technology solutions for records, management and efficiency.
To be inaugurated today, the clinic will also hold a free medical camp.