Providing Access to High Quality Secondary and Tertiary Health Care

Participants Speak
SHARDA Trust has now decided to concentrate on programmes for providing high quality secondary and tertiary healthcare to the urban poor. The logic behind this decision was that SHARDA Trust should concentrate on activities that others generally do not undertake. The costs of treatment for secondary and tertiary ailments are generally high and the access to these services for the poor is very difficult.

Our experience show how difficult it is for the poor to access secondary and tertiary heath care. The difficulty in accessing secondary and tertiary health care stem from three reasons:

(i). Ignorance and the hesitation on the part of the poor to approach the right specialists with right equipment.

(ii). high cost of treatment with private providers of health care; and

(iii). poor quality of health service in public hospitals.

The root cause of all these difficulties is the lack of return on investment the nation makes in health care. So far, the thinking in India has been that the health care services should be priced low. The experience shows that this thinking has to change. This experience also reinforces our judgment that the corporate sector must play a leadership role in this area. This is because accessing high quality secondary and tertiary healthcare requires ability to establish networks with good local hospitals, private nursing homes and doctors and very flexible working culture. These requirements bar the patients from the socio economic background we are working with, in getting high quality treatment. Because of our association with our parent company Arvind Mills, it is much easier for us to establish these networks and provide help to the needy, whenever required. Presently, our reach in terms of number of patients and the variety of diseases we are covering is limited because we lack financial and human resources but we are aiming to expand this activity rapidly. We are at this moment also not covering any Degenerative Diseases other than Eye Surgery because of the same reason.

To provide high quality secondary and tertiary health care to the persons from the distressed areas, the Trust has set up a network of specialists, hospitals and charitable trusts. The Trust guides the patients to the appropriate specialist and shares the cost of treatment up to 66% of the total. Between January 1998 and September 2000, the Trust has helped about 325 patients for various diseases. About 225 patients were helped for eye surgery and remaining for burn and other diseases.

This is what some of the participants had to say about the programme. Maganbhai said