Upset over the way a newborn girl was rejected by her father at a Hadapsar-based Medicare Hospital, Dr Ganesh Rakh decided to conduct deliveries free of cost, if the baby born is a girl.
Five years since then, Rakh has not only conducted 750 free deliveries, he also started free vaccinations for girls till the age of five.
Following Rakh’s example, other doctors too have joined this unique campaign to save the girlchild, and are now conducting operations, either free of cost or at lower rates.
In Shirur, 70 kms from Pune, Dr Satish Andhale Patil has conducted 55 deliveries free of cost in the last nine months, while at Ahmednagar Dr Jagdish Bharadiya has displayed a rate card that promises free deliveries if the baby is a girl!
Dr Patil, who runs Mauli Hospital at Shirur, told The Indian Express that Rakh’s perseverance over the years to keep performing surgeries free of cost for families who have a baby girl was a huge step.
“We decided to follow the same model. No bills are charged, not even registration charges, from families who have a baby girl. At times, there are couples who feel disheartened upon the birth of a second girl. So, here we invite prominent citizens in the area, who have had one or two girls, to give motivational talks to such couples,” he said.
Dr Bharadiya, who set up Aai Swasthya Hospital at Ahmednagar, has put up a ratecard, which has listed free delivery of a baby girl through normal delivery.
“A C-section costs Rs 20,000, but if the baby is a girl then we will only collect Rs 10,000,” Bharadiya told this newspaper.
A consistent ‘save the girlchild’ campaign has helped motivate as many as 17,000 medical students across various colleges, to pledge that they will deliver baby girls free of charge, Rakh said.
Dr T N Salve, principal, Annasaheb Magar Mahavidyala, pointed out that several students have shown willingness to join the campaign.
At Rakh’s 50-bedded Medicare General and Maternity Hospital, most of the patients are from rural areas. “It is very disturbing when some families do not even bother to check if the girlchild, who was kept in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has survived or not. So, we celebrate the birth of a girlchild by cutting cakes and giving gifts to the mother,” Rakh added.
While NICU bills are also waived, 11 girls who have faced acid attacks and had severe burns have also been treated free of cost here. Rakh’s tiny contribution in delivering girls free of cost, even had the BBC worldwide media private limited shortlisting him as one of the six ‘unsung heroes’ on a TV show Aaj Ki Raat Zindagi, which was anchored by noted actor Amitabh Bachchan.