Last year, an Odisha-based doctor started a “one rupee clinic” to give affordable healthcare to thousands of patients. Dr. Shankar Ramchandani was motivated to create the clinic after witnessing his father’s struggle to make ends meet.
It was painful for Dr. Shankar Ramchandani to see his father struggling to make ends meet while owning a tiny stationery store as he grew up. Dr. Ramchandani’s father was the main breadwinner for his 32-member family.
When his grandfather and uncle died of cancer, his father was distraught since he couldn’t afford their treatment. His father then decided to educate his children and train them to be doctors who could aid the underprivileged, he claims.
He says, “I aspired to be a doctor not only to fulfil my father’s ambition, but also to do my best to serve the poor and needy.”
However, the road to Dr. Ramchandani’s dream was not simple, as he says there were four daughters and five sons in his family.
Dr. Ramchandani was was the youngest son. He says, “My eldest brother had to shoulder all of the obligations after our father died in 2001. I couldn’t even purchase textbooks and had to rely on hand-me-downs from my seniors.”
Dr Ramchandani was placed second in Odisha state during his medical admission exam.
Dr. Ramchandani’s own life served as a lesson to him, ensuring that others did not have to suffer as he and his family did. He established a ‘One Rupee Clinic’ in Burla, Odisha’s Sambalpur district, in February 2021 to provide treatment and medicine to the needy and impoverished.
He claims to have treated 7,000 individuals in the last year or so. He sees 20-30 people per day on average.
“It’s been a year since I launched the one rupee clinic, and it brings me enormous happiness to help the underprivileged,” says the 38-year-old doctor, who plans to launch a ‘one rupee medicine service’ on the clinic’s first anniversary in 2022.
Dr. Ramchandani, who is also an assistant professor at the Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) in Burla, says he makes time for his clinic after work.
“I became a senior resident after being a VIMSAR student. I was promoted to assistant professor in January 2021 and opened the clinic in a rented house a month later,” says the internal medicine specialist.
His father, Brahmanand Ramchandani, wanted him to open a poor nursing home, but Dr. Ramchandani says he was unable to start one because it demands a significant investment.He then decided to open a clinic where he could provide more services than in a nursing home.
Dr. Ramchandani says he charges Rs 1 because he does not want his patients to think they’re getting treatments for free. He says, “They should feel as if they have paid for the treatment.”
Dr. Ramchandani says, he is grateful to be able to assist the poor, disabled, old, and any other person who lacks access to medical treatment.
Aside from providing treatment, the doctor also sells drugs to his patients for Rs 1. Dr. Ramchandani says he gets his poor patients medicines through the government’s Jan Aushadi plan, as those patients cannot afford to pay even Rs.10 for medicines.
He says he uses his money when expensive medicines are required. The One Rupee Clinic, located in Burla’s Kachha market district, is usually open from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., but Dr. Ramchandani says, it sometimes goes even till 11 p.m.
“Dr Ramchandani has been a social worker rather than a doctor,” says Khireswar Pradhan, a farmer and social worker from Sambhalpur.
He has saved countless people’s lives by spending thousands of rupees out of his own pocket.”
Mr Pradhan says that Dr Ramchandani has also established another clinic for the disadvantaged in his hometown of Padampur. Dr. Ramchandani is also involved in leprosy awareness campaigns.
He says, “There are some persons who have healed from leprosy yet continue to live a wretched life. I wanted to help those people and remove the societal stigma associated with it.
As a result, I vowed to take care of a Junapani colony by providing free health care and
education to the children.”
Dr. Shankar Ramchandani also received great praise for his efforts in assisting individuals
throughout the outbreak. During the initial wave of the pandemic, he treated a 27-year-old COVID-19 patient after hours and drove him to the hospital in his car. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also lauded him for his One Rupee Clinic programme.