In our endeavour to take the State’s healthcare to the desired level, getting sophisticated equipment to upgrade the facilities in the government sector, Rotary is helping us much more than any other voluntary organisation,” said Kerala’s Health Minister K K Shailaja.
Inaugurating a bunch of equipment such as the CT Simulator and Dosimetry unit (an advanced version of the CT scan systems) at the Ernakulam General Hospital through a global grant done by RC Cochin South, RID 3201, with a Malaysian club, valued at over ₹3 crore, she said the money earmarked for the health sector by GoI, two per cent of the GDP, from which Kerala was getting its due share, was not sufficient to meet the healthcare needs of the population. This was particularly so for those sections who depended totally on the Government healthcare system.
“The Kerala government is always trying to convert government hospitals to patient-friendly, high-technology centres and reduce out-of-pocket-expenditure for the poor. Of course the GoI is declaring new health initiatives but the financial resources are not sufficient.”
Thanking Rotary, particularly DG Madhav Chandran, for helping her department in areas such as mental health, cancer detection, eye care, etc, she urged Rotarians to support her government’s massive task to convert primary health centres into family health centres. She also thanked Rotarians Nawas Meeran (Chairman, Eastern Condiments) and Kochouseph Chittilappilly (Chairman of V-Guard) both AKS members, from whose donations to the TRF this project fructified, for their generosity. She sought their further support through CSR funds for starting more super specialities such as cardiac surgery, nephrology, etc in government hospitals in Ernakulam and beyond. “We are ready for partnerships with the corporate sector and will be grateful for your help. As you know, floods have affected many PHCs across Kerala. Let’s rebuild them as family health centres, particularly in North Kerala as we do not have so many big companies there.”
TRF focus on healthcare
Inaugurating the new equipment, Trustee Chair Gary Huang said TRF was happy to partner with the Government of Kerala to improve health services as that was one of Rotary’s major focus areas. “We have worked very hard to eradicate polio from the world and have managed to do so by 99.9 per cent.”
He added that in Rotary disease prevention and treatment for ailments is one area that has attracted most funding and a bulk of Rotary projects centred around preventive health as well as treatment for diseases. “Our global grants cover initiatives such as purchase of equipment, prevention and treatment of non-communicable and communicable diseases, life-saving surgeries, training of doctors and other medical personnel and much more.”
We are ready for partnerships with the corporate sector and will be grateful for your help.
– K K Shailaja, Kerala Health Minister
He congratulated DG Chandran and Rotarians in Kochi for striking “such a wonderful partnership” with the government in Kerala, and urged them “to continue working hard to bring lasting change in our communities.”
Addressing the meet, TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty recalled his long association with Kochi and said TRF was very happy to be associated with the government of Kerala in its bid to upgrade health facilities and give quality healthcare to its people. He assured Minister Shailaja that “this cooperation will continue”.
Vahanvaty said he was very impressed by the 4-way partnership in which these service projects were being done in Kerala — the involvement of Members of Parliament, champions of industry such as Chittilappilly and Meeran, the local Rotarians and the TRF. They had all come together to make a difference to the community. “I do hope this partnership continues; you in Kerala should be proud about what you have achieved. No State in India can match the parameters of health in Kerala, where the infant mortality rate (IMR), for instance, is better than even that in the US. So your primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare is a great example for the rest of India to follow. But of course, we always need to improve, and we will be in the forefront to assist you with that improvement.”
The commitment of the doctors in working with Rotary was remarkable. It was difficult to believe that this is just a government hospital.
– DG Madhav Chandran
He added that last year, after the devastating floods, Rotary had partnered with several organisations to rebuild homes. One such partnership with the Aster group was to rebuild 75 homes.
Describing his experience in working with this global grant project, DG Chandran said, “While working on this project, the kind of enthusiasm and commitment these doctors showed in working with Rotary was remarkable, and it was difficult to believe that this is just a government hospital.”
He announced that the next project Rotarians are working on is a palliative care centre to be set up in the same hospital to help patients after treatment or the terminally ill, who have nobody to take care of them. He thanked the hospital superintendent and the team of doctors for their involvement in these projects. “We have created a milestone for an NGO and government to work together; let us do even bigger and better projects,” he added.
Giving the genesis of the hospital project, Algiers Khalid, District General Secretary, said that someone from the Ernakulam Government Hospital had approached Meeran, a member of RC Cochin South, for upgradation of the equipment and he expressed his willingness. The amount came to around ₹2 crore. “We advised him that if he could donate the money to TRF, we could multiply it through a global grant.”
Added, RID 3201 Foundation Chair R Jayasankar, “When we told him this, it did not even take him 15 seconds to agree and he became an AKS member. Finally, the project cost crossed ₹3.5 crore, and a part of the shortfall was taken from the term gift that Chittilippilly, another AKS member from the district, had given. The final cost of the project was $497,000.”
After the devastating floods, Rotary partnered with several organisations to rebuild homes.
Responding to Minister Shailaja’s appeal for help from corporates, Meeran said that he was open to future partnerships with the government in the health sector. “You have made an appeal for upgrading primary health centres into family centres and I assure you my support for doing this work.”
Later in the day, Trustee Chair Gary laid the foundation stone for one of the low-cost homes that a few clubs in RID 3201 are building for the flood- affected people of Kerala. Apart from the Aster group, Atos India has also got into a partnership with RID 3201 to build low- cost shelters in flood-hit Kerala.
This is one of the 11 houses that RC Kochi Central will be building for the flood ravaged, thanks to the keen interest taken by the immediate past president of the club Biju John. “You won’t find him anywhere in the front at this event. But he travelled over 10,000 km to identify the most adversely affected beneficiaries and he spearheaded a fund-collection drive which resulted in the collection of over ₹1 crore,” said one of the members of RC Cochin Central.
Rtn Biju John spearheaded a fund collection drive which resulted in the collection of over ₹1 crore.
I manage to track down and talk to the reclusive past president, who tells me that this particular house was being built for a woman whose husband had died in a gas explosion and was now left with two children. “It will have an area of about 500 sq ft and will be ready in six months,” he says.
Gary, Vahanvaty and Chandran visited a spanking new house that has been built by Rotarians and were welcomed gratefully by the family.
They also inspected two other GG projects in Kochi — an eye screening van and a mammogram screening equipment fitted on a van.
A CSR Conclave
Later that evening a CSR Conclave was held to raise awareness on the community service projects that Rotary does and the possibility of striking corporate partnerships for spending CSR funds. A presentation was made on the kind of service projects where corporates could partner.
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat