Thanks to the initiative of around 20 NRI doctors, mostly from Britain and the US, a hospital is being set up here with the aim of providing quality healthcare at a low cost to the poor.
Sanjiban, which will be located on the outskirts of Howrah, 30 km from here, will offer specialised services in fields like paediatrics, cardiology and ENT and will be operational by April next year.
"Sanjiban was an idea that we had conceptualised during our college days in the early 1980s. Now it will turn into reality," Subhashis Mitra, a Britain-based medical professional, told IANS.
Mitra, who got his MBBS degree in West Bengal and has been in Britain for nearly 13 years, is all set to give up his job as a senior surgeon in Glasgow and come back to India to head Sanjiban.
"We have always thought that healthcare is not a business, but a service. We honestly believe that the concept of private healthcare should be changed so that even poor people can get access to this facility in West Bengal," he said.
Mitra is also president of the Chikitsa Broti Udyog, the trust behind the Sanjiban initiative. Social activist Prafulla Chakraborty is general secretary of the trust.
"Since we are targeting a particular section of society, we are trying to help them with medical insurance. Talks are on with the National Insurance Company Ltd for a medical insurance tie-up," Mitra said.
He said the hospital had joined hands with a low-priced generic drug manufacturing company, Locost, and taken the help of a Vadodara-based consultancy firm, MSP Consultant, to bring down the cost of its services.
"Inflated medical bills are a nightmare for patients in India. If we can bring down the cost, it will be a great help to poor people," Locost managing trustee S. Srinivasan told IANS.
The hospital will have a captive power plant and a green house energy reservoir. Mitra said the hospital would be able to reduce the operational cost by about 40 percent by using renewable energy.
The hospital will initially have 130 beds, but the capacity will be increased to 300 beds in the near future.
"We are planning to develop this hospital as a premier healthcare centre in the entire Southeast Asia." Mitra said.