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Dialysis at Rs 100? He made it happen!

By P Rajendran
September 10, 2014 13:07 IST
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Indian American Harvard Medical School student Sachin Jain looks beyond boundaries of direct service.

Sachin Jain comes from a family of philanthropists.

His India-born father, Subhash, and others funded Jain's paternal aunt Shanti, who had committed her life to rural health care in Phalodi, Rajasthan.

The family runs the HBS Trust, which, among other things, runs a non-profit hospital (Kalapurnam General Hospital) and a school (Bal Academy).

He watched as his father and brother, Roopam, worked their own magic, once sending to India supplies from a hospital in Kansas that went bankrupt.

Sachin had done his share in organising things for his parents in the United States.

He spent some time at the hospital, even living there awhile.

But if he was to help, he saw that he could not make the same kind of headway his father perhaps did.

He realised there were cultural nuances to India, one that essentially made for a foreign context for him, he says:

"As someone who grew up in America, I don't have that. People there know to get things done... There's a different work culture in India."

Sachin, who went to Harvard Medical School, taking a break to do his MBA first, and then to work awhile in the Obama administration, says, "As I got older, (I saw) the special sweet spot I could be at (would be one where I could) build partnerships that create novel programmes."

He spoke to Kent Theiry, chief executive officer, Davita, the largest dialysis material supplier in the US, and worked out a deal to do collaborative work on dialysis services in India.

Thanks to Davita and other sources of funding, the HBS Trust has two dialysis centres -- in Jodhpur and Phalodi.

Already 17,000 patients have used the facilities in Jodhpur, 3500 in Phalodi.

The charges are on the ability to pay, amounting to about Rs 100 ($1.63) and Rs 200 ($3.27) per session.

That well-nurtured partnership has been on for almost six years.

Sachin also worked out a deal with the Medical Mission for Children (Boston), which worked on cleft lips and palates.

"They were interested in going to India," Jain says, adding that he "didn't think there was need for this."

But a few advertisements in the local papers there unleashed an overwhelming response.

He now realises how important the seven-year partnership has been in helping people living with that social stigma get jobs or even get married.

Sachin goes there every year, to meet family and see how the hospitals are doing.

In the US, he practices at the Boston Veterans Hospital, is editor-in-chief of Healthcare, an academic publication, and the chief innovation officer at Merck.

On the side he organises trips for doctors to India.

The role of Indian Americans has been to go back and give frontline service, he says, adding, "My job is understanding what is going there."

He says he spends a lot of time maintaining relationships, failing to fix a deal 80 percent of the time.

He speaks of another dialysis company he has been wooing, which has coyly refused to play nice yet.

Something might happen next month or next fall. The important thing is not to get discouraged, Jain says.

He adds that right now people think of doing direct service. But, just as he did, there is also the option for young people to learn to use the options they have here.

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P Rajendran
India Abroad