January 22, 2014 | By charging less than half the market rate, Surat Manav Seva Sangh is making high-end magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans affordable for the masses. Economically weak patients even have their MRI scans done for free.
An article by Swati Prasad
India’s poor and lower-middle class often avoid a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination due to its prohibitive cost and a lack of health insurance. Surat Manav Seva Sangh – a charitable trust in Surat, Gujarat – invested in a MAGNETOM ESSENZA 1.5-tesla system to provide superior MRI scans at less than half the market rate. For the poor, the trust provides MRI scans for free. This way, high-end MRI examinations are within the reach of the poor and the middle class.
Surat, known for its diamond and textile mills, is the second largest city in the state of Gujarat in West India. It boasts several flyovers, broad roads, plenty of shopping malls, and high rises.
Aatmajyoti MRI Centre, situated in the Government Medical College and New Civil Hospital campus in Surat, provides MRI scans at less than half the market rate. It is run by the Surat Manav Seva Sangh, a charitable trust popularly known as Chhanyado.
For the poor and several other categories of patients, MRI scans are also done for free. Peer Mohammed Hussain Miyan, an artisan, is relieved after having the fee waived for his daughter-in-law’s MRI scan.
In order to serve the needs of the poor, Chhanyado invested in a MAGNETOM® ESSENZA in 2008. For Siemens, this was the first order of a 1.5-tesla MAGNETOM ESSENZA from Asia. For Surat, this was the first 1.5-tesla MRI system.
The MRI center draws patients from a 300 kilometer radius around Surat. Fifty-year-old Ajij Khan Hamid Khan Pathan, a laborer, travelled all the way here from the Jalgaon district in Maharashtra – 320 kilometers from Surat – for a brain MRI.
Bharat Shah, President of Chhanyado, is quite liberal when it comes to waiving the fee for the MRI scan. The trust asks patients for their electricity bill, instead of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, which is not easy to procure, as proof of economic status.
Aatmajyoti MRI Centre is achieving more than breakeven on operating costs. This surplus is being used for more charity work. The MRI centre partly funds a dialysis centre that provides dialysis to patients at one-third the market rate.
Shah (pictured on the right) speaks to Sadiqbhai M. Shaikh, a 42-year-old driver, who has been on dialysis for the last 18 months. For Shaikh, the dialysis centre is a blessing. At the subsidized rate, he can afford dialysis and return to his job.
Swati Prasad is a freelance business journalist based in Delhi. She reports from India for several publications overseas and has worked as a correspondent and editor for The Economic Times, Business Standard, The Indian Express, and Business Today.