We were delighted to welcome Dr. Dhruv Ghosh, Paediatric Surgeon and Associate Director CMC Ludhiana to our AGM. He was in the UK attending two professional meetings in Birmingham and Liverpool. It was good to hear money from our Good Samaritan fund is very much appreciated by the recipients. Grants from this fund are usually limited to £100 so hardly make an impact on tertiary care. However, Dr. Ghosh assured us that even this relatively small amount can pay for chemotherapy for a child.
Then Dr. Ghosh explained why India still needs our help to assist the financing of care for the sick. The Indian economy may be booming but the poor are still everywhere. India has 1.3 million hospital beds for a population of 1.3 billion. Of these beds 540,000 are in the public sector and they are not free. Village health centres are either very basic or non-existent, and very few doctors are prepared to work in those situations. Less than 10% of the population has healthcare insurance.
CMC has two major challenges. 1) To provide healthcare for those too poor to pay for themselves and 2) to train doctors to work in the rural mission hospitals throughout India.
We can really make a meaningful contribution to these challenges. Friends in U.S.A. Canada and Australia also help. Of course CMC raises some money locally within India, and has received a grant from the Bill Gates Foundation, but it will be a long time before CMC as a minority institution can be self-supporting.
As for the second challenge, some of the students are sponsored by Christian organisations and are bonded to serve in the sponsor’s hospital for two years. All the students receive training in rural hospital care and it is a measure of the success of this training that some of the non-Christian students are prepared to serve for a time in mission hospitals.