By Yashika Thukral:
As you walk through the dusty narrow lanes of the town of Hapur in Uttar Pradesh, you realise that even after years of technological advancements in the country, growth is yet to trickle to the foundational level. Upon interaction with locals, it does not take time to understand the grim situation of healthcare which prevails. With the nearest healthcare centre located at a distance of over 9 km from the town, you wonder if at all this region is located at the periphery of our capital’s NCR. A primary survey points out an average monthly household expenditure of ₹ 4100 on healthcare, far too much to bear for residents, most of who work as daily wage labourers, earning meagre incomes of ₹ 350 per day.
With this encounter began the journey of Project Aarogya, launched with the vision of identifying, innovating and resolving issues of affordable and accessible healthcare of the country’s masses. The project was initiated by Enactus Ramjas (part of the global non-profit Enactus), a society of passionate students of University of Delhi’s Ramjas College, striving hard to shape a sustainable world through entrepreneurial action.
Inaugurated in April 2017, the project’s first Aarogya Healthcare Centre in Hapur district was a beacon of hope for the residents.
The centre establishes a chain of three primary healthcare services for the citizens. The first is a pharmacy, run by a registered pharmacist, the primary entrepreneur of the project, which retails in generic medicines. Generic medicines contain the same chemical composition as branded medicines and work in equal effect as their branded counterparts, but cost up to 80% cheaper, due to the elimination of brand.
The second is maintaining a cycle of seven doctors (for seven days a week) that render their services at the centre for a few hours each day, at a nominal rate to the village residents.
The third is the pathology service facility operated by a trained lab technician which facilitates daily sample collection and report delivery, in collaboration with a reputed diagnostic centre in the city.
Finally, in order to ensure effective utilisation of the services at the centre and promote awareness among citizens, weekly sensitisation camps are held by the team at the centre discussing symptoms, prevention and cure management on diseases as well as topics such as family planning, safe sex, pre and postnatal health and nutrition.
Once unemployed and disengaged, Ashwin, the pharmacist at the centre now earns an average of ₹ 15,000 per month. From managing supply and inventory to maintaining accounts and handling customers on a daily basis, his growth has been nothing short of remarkable. The residents of Hapur are content with the services they are being provided at their doorstep and by the exponential 70% reduction in their monthly healthcare expenditure.
Knowing fully well that regions like Hapur, bereft of fundamental healthcare facilities, were not far and few, and that the success of the first Aarogya Healthcare Centre was only a beginning, Project Aarogya set out to replicate its model to several locations across Delhi-NCR. With a chain of over 8 Aarogya Healthcare Centres operating across Delhi NCR impacting over 50,000 people on a monthly basis, Project Aarogya is providing affordable and accessible healthcare to the masses at an unprecedented rate. The independently carried out Aarogya Health Index has been developed after months of thorough research by the team and serves as an important tool in quantitatively assessing the impact of Aarogya’s intervention in the lives of people residing in the vicinity of its centres.
Fast forward to April 2018 as Aarogya celebrates its one year anniversary at the Hapur centre; with a proud pharmacist and an even prouder team, the sea of surrounding smiling faces make all the difference. As Team Aarogya announces their vision to take their project pan-India and expand the reach of Aarogya Healthcare Centres to over 50 locations across the country, one cannot help but notice an excited 12-year-old Mani, a regular customer at the pharmacy (an asthma patient) scribble three powerful words on the board set up alongside the pharmacy. “Aarogya Karna Hai”, it reads.