Charity Funding for Better Healthcare in India

Commander Navneet Bali

By Rajiv Tewari, Founder, MediaNetwork, based on a conversation with Commander Navneet Bali, Group COO, IOSPL (Cancer Therapy Centre). Full introduction of Navneet has been shared at the end of this article.

In-spite of a huge scaling up of the healthcare treatment facilities, a large number of patients remain untreated in India and many more reach the healthcare facilities when its too late.  According to a report, published by the India Today Magazine,   in case of Cancer almost 80% patients consult a doctor when recovery is very difficult. It is tragic to note that of these patients, 15% children die of cancer each year and 71% die in the age group of 30 to 69 years. The reasons for such a late detection are lack of early diagnosis, social habits like chewing tobacco and living an unhealthy life style.  Similar is the case for several other diseases which claim millions of valuable lives in India.

In most of the other sectors a demand supply gap would have meant a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs but unfortunately a large number of hospitals in India are struggling to be economically viable in spite of a large population needing their services.  In the absence of the power to pay the gap remains unfulfilled.

Leveraging the unutilized potential of charitable Institutes & small Hospitals

“We have created an economically sustainable model for the charitable institutes & small hospitals by providing expert doctors to diagnose the patients and have also lowered the rates of treatment by almost 40% at our treatment centres.  This is possible due to the economies of scale as a higher utilization of doctors and equipment allows us to lower rates on a per unit basis,” said Navneet. He also shared that they are in advanced stages of finalizing an agreement with an Israeli company to provide their alliance partners state of the art medical equipment on a pay per usage basis. This will help IOSPL in creating cancer treatment centres across the country.  This scaling up is  possible due to assured volume of patients through their model of connecting with the charitable institutes, government and private hospitals which do not have adequate cancer treatment facilities.  This set the tone for our conversation on how the charity funds can be leveraged to benefit a larger number of patients by simply connecting the two ends.

Technology can seamlessly connect the service providers to leverage charity funding

Since the healthcare domain is highly unorganized, there is hardly any formal connection between the primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitals which could have ensured full utilization of capacities at all levels of operation, specially in the private sector small and medium size hospitals.  On the other side there are a lot of charitable institutes which are not fully equipped to diagnose and treat tertiary care patients.  These institutes simply do not have enough resources for buying costly medical devices and hiring highly paid qualified doctors so they have to simply advise the patients to go elsewhere.   Connecting the two can benefit a far larger number of patients.  Charitable hospitals can then see the OPD patients and have a volume based rate agreement with the hospitals that are fully equipped to treat those patients which can not be treated at their end.  Similarly charity funds can also be leveraged by entering into agreements with the service providers who will be happy to utilize their empty beds to accommodate additional patients.

Time donation by healthcare volunteers

Mobile phones can connect the last leg of connectivity with the patients even in the remotest of the remote areas through health volunteers willing to donate time. All that is required is digital information on mobile phone about where to go for diagnosis, treatment and the payment options for free & paid services. Digital mapping of facilities and connectivity with the healthcare providers can go a long way in sharing information through the volunteers and counselling of the patients by the doctors from remote locations. Volunteer ship, specially in healthcare, is very common in India so it will be not be much of a challenge to get them to help the needy.  Same channel can also be used to create awareness about diseases, important of sanitation and better healthcare.

Navneet, as the commanding officer in charge at Visakhapatnam, had noticed the children of a large number of construction workers roaming around with no purpose.  On enquiring, he found that the parents were not in a position to send them to a school which was located too far and moreover the fees were beyond their means.  He talked to his colleagues and shared his concern about the children.  Support came in the form of volunteership for teaching the children from almost all the families of the naval staff stationed there.  Authorities allowed the use of unutilized space in the campus and the result was that almost 3000 children began to get good education. This spirit of volunteership is present in every part of the country and it is particularly well ingrained in the armed forces personnel. If we were to only rope in the retired men in uniform, a lot can happen in the area of healthcare as these personnel are trained in recognizing basic symptoms and providing basic healthcare in emergencies.

Charity funding can go a long way in filling in the budgetary gaps

Government of India spends only about 4% of its GDP on healthcare due to severe budgetary constraints. Though the private sector has stepped in to fill the gap, yet the difference between demand and supply is very large.  Charity funding can go a long way in filling this gap.  Due to the advancements in digital technology it will be easy to monitor and audit the funds utilization in a transparent manner. This will help in ensuring that the charity funds reach the needy. Individual & corporate donors, churches, temples, gurudwaras, masjids and many other religious institutions have huge resources to donate for causes such as healthcare.  Once there is an assurance on how the funds will be utilized with transparent reporting systems, the flow of funds can be huge.

About Commander Navneet Bali

Commander Navneet Bali is the Group COO, IOSPL (Cancer Therapy Centre).   Prior to joining IOSPL, he was the Unit Director of Rockland Qutab Hospital in Delhi.  He is widely known and respected in the healthcare industry for his excellent leadership skills. He has made a mark for himself in healthcare by practicing the concept of servant leadership breaking away from the norm of the corner room syndrome that separates leaders from the employees at the lower rungs of an organization.

His last assignment was as the Joint Director of Naval Plans. He took voluntary retirement in 2014 to serve the nation in the healthcare sector.  Navneet graduated from the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA), in 1991 and has served the Indian Navy in several leadership positions. While in the Indian Navy, Navneet managed two large organisations, INS Venduruthy Kochi and INS Ezhimala Kannur as Executive Officer. This entailed managing the administration and complete running of these two institutions. Each is a mini city in its own right. His achievements can be better understood by the awards he got while serving the Indian Navy:

  • Awarded the Chief of Naval Staff commendation for excellence in running the new naval base as the administrative head and for excellence in preparing the naval academy in a short span of time for the inauguration by honourable Prime Minister in Jan 2009
  • Awarded the Commander in chief commendation excellence in the administration of the erstwhile Naval Academy Goa in Aug 2007
  • Awarded the Commander in chief commendation for innovative ideas in running the base saving the exchequer the precious revenue budget and outstanding administrative arrangements during Presidents visit to Southern Naval Command in Aug 2004
  • Meritorious performance medal for operation PARAKRAM(Attack on Parliament)
  • Meritorious medal for exemplary service for Operation ViJAY (Kargil War)
  • Nine years and twenty years meritorious service awards