If corporate hospital is buzz word in metros and big cities, a doctor in Erode in western Tamil Nadu in southern India swears by co-operative hospitals.
The co-operative concept is made best use of by the Erode-based anesthetist Dr V Jeevanantham to set up hospitals, educational institutions, an old age home and an orphanage.
He set up the 10-bedded Erode cancer centre at a cost of Rs 3 crore early this year. Of this, Rs 15 crore was pooled from 70 people with each contributing Rs 2 lakh.
This is how he manages the funds. In the first three years the income from the hospital will be utilised for development. After that 50 percent of the income would be used for repaying the interest-free loan to the 70 contributors.
``Since the investment is not profit-motivated, we're reasonable. If Rs 30,000 -Rs 50,000 is charged for a 25 days radiation therapy in other private hospitals, a patient pays only Rs 12,000 at the cancer centre Dr Jeevanantham says.
``But there is no compromise on quality. We've latest equipment imported from China and Russia. Though cheaper when compared to German-made equipment, they are successfully tested in reputed hospitals like Christian Fellowship Hospital in Oddanchathram, he says.
``We're transparent and inform the patients what we charge for room, operation, injection etc,'' Jeevanantham pointed out.
``We're a core of about 10 persons, all friends, from different walks of life. In each project we chip in with our contribution first before turning to the public. The involvement of the public brings in accountability,'' Dr Jeevanantham says.
The Rs 70-lakh, 20-bedded Imayam Home for Terminally ill cancer patients inaugurated by former President of India Abdul Kalam last year, was established with contribution from the Indian Medical Council doctors and the public.
Wayback in 1982, he had set up a Higher Secondary School in Erode with contributions of Rs 10,000 each from 20 people. This was followed by a de-addiction centre-cum five-bedded hospital Nalandha. The next venture was Bharathidhasan College of Arts and Science in Erode and an institute offering Teachers Training and BEd course along with a Higher Secondary School in Cuddalore. An Old Age Home and an Orphanage were also set up with public contributions.
Work towards the construction of Jeeva Memorial Hospital, exclusively for the tribals in Andhiyur Hills is underway. There is also a plan to set up a hospital in Thanjavur to treat cancer and diabetes patients.
Jeevanantham terms this all as `no-profit, no-loss institutions.''
``In this globalised scenario when everything-right from education to medical care -is commercialised, co-operative concept has been useful to serve the people, particularly the lower middle class (the government would take care of the poor) better,'' he says .
"Disease should not be a tool in the hands of doctors to exploit people. Medical service should be cost-effective and transparent," Dr Jeevanantham feels.
Jeevanantham is guided by the words of Tamil revolutionary Poet Subramania Bharathi whose lines gives this meaning: "the days of a monarch (or government) serving the people are long gone and now the people have to come forward to help themselves."