According to the recent Global Competitive Index 2019 report, in the critical pillar of healthcare, India ranked at 110 of the 141 countries surveyed. Also, its score on various healthcare counts has been found far below the global average.
In healthy life expectancy, for instance, India has been ranked 109 by the World Economic Forum. This is one of the shortest outside Africa and significantly below the South Asian average.
Towards addressing healthcare delivery and quality, and developing universal health coverage in the country, initiatives like Ayushman Bharat have been implemented by the government in recent years.
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Besides, over the years, individuals and NGOs have also come forward and contributed to the sector. Dr Annappa N Bali is one such individual. Assisted by a three-member team, he has been treating patients while charging only Rs 10 as his consultation fee which also covers medicines, injections, and other treatments, reports The New Indian Express.
A resident of Bailhongal town in Belagavi district, Karnataka, the 79-year-old doctor, on any given day, treats 75 to 150 patients at his clinic, which is open from 10 am to 1:30 pm and again from 4 pm to 7:30 pm. Most of his patients are poor, and while he charges only Rs 10 for his consultation, they are treated for free.
For this invaluable service, Annappa has been fondly hailed as the ‘hatta rupayi doctor’ (Rs 10 doctor), reports Storypick.
Annappa himself had faced a lot of challenges through his childhood, hailing from a low-income family. Speaking to The New Indian Express, he said,
“I was able to get my education by staying at a free boarding school. Later, I was helped by some people and was able to complete my MBBS at KMC, Hubballi. Then, I got a diploma in ENT in Mysuru in 1978.”
After his graduation, Annappa started as a health officer at the government health department in 1967, retiring in 1998 as a district surgeon. He adds, “I know what bitter poverty is like – I have tasted it too, I have no reason to chase money now. I just want peace of mind, which I get by treating poor patients.”
The only reason he charges Rs 10, Annappa explains, is that if the treatment was given completely free, his patients wouldn't understand its importance.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)
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