Those who aspire to become a doctor, the first thing that they say is, “When I become a doctor, I would give free treatment to the patients or I would charge a minimal fee from poverty-stricken people.” But the reality is that most of them wouldn’t keep up the word. It’s a fact!
However, there are few doctors who have been charging very less from poor patients for so many years. A year ago, Dr S Jayachandran from Chennai drew his last breath and he was famously known as ‘two-rupee’ doctor because he was charging only Rs 2 as consultation fee for his patients. Now following his footprints, husband and wife doctors are charging just Re 1 for treatment even today.
Hailing from Nagpur, Maharashtra, Dr Ravindra Kolhe did his MBBS from GMCH Nagpur, in 1985 and was assigned to go to Bairagarh for 1.5 years.
There he saw the unfortunate situation of poor people in the tribal outskirts. Then he went to Nagpur to do his MD in preventive and social medicine, after which he made a decision to settle in Bairagarh in the year 1987.
Later on, his wife Dr Smita Kolhe who specialises in Ayurveda and Homeopathy joined him in helping the people.
Both of them charge patients just Re 1 for getting treated at their clinic. Besides, they together ran their own government ration shop.
In a statement to the Times of India, Mr Kolhe said, “Initially, we would walk about 40 km from the bus station. But after 15 years, the bus started coming to our hospital. It is the people of Melghat who have brought this honour to me. Had they not accepted me, I would have been nowhere.”
The best part is that they provide medical care without any expensive medical equipment “While working in tribal regions, doctors must know how to deliver a baby without the facility of sonography or blood transfusion, how to diagnose pneumonia without an X-ray and how to cure diarrhoea. With these skills, I earned the respect of tribal people,” he added.
They have also saved several kids’ lives by charging the same amount. “When I came here 1985 after completing my MBBS, I was shocked to see the condition of tribals living in this area. IMR was around 200 per thousand children which was one of the highest in the country. But over a period of time, things have improved and now IMR is around 40 which I believe would go down as government, as well as the local groups, are working hard in this direction,”
For their fruitful contributions to the society and the tribals of Melghat, both Mr and Mrs Kolhe were awarded the prestigious Padma Shri by President of India Ram Nath Govind in 2019.