Making healthcare accessible to everyone

Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi is providing Healthcare facilities to the underprivileged through a Mobile Clinic in Bangalore. Read about his passion to bring change in the society...

Last Updated on August 11, 2023 by Neelam Singh

The bustling city of Bangalore is known for economic prosperity and technological advancements. However, there exists a stark contrast in the lives of its underprivileged population. Amidst the tall buildings and corporate offices, a beacon of hope shines in the form of Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi. He is a compassionate and dedicated physician who runs a mobile health clinic, reaching out to those who are often overlooked by the mainstream healthcare system.

The poverty head-count rate in India is 10.2 per cent as of 2019, and rural areas have more poor people than urban areas. According to a World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, published by Sutirtha Sinha Roy and Roy van der Weide, poverty in India has declined over the last decade but not as much as previously thought.

Identifying the need

Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi recognised the pressing need for healthcare services among the underprivileged communities living on the fringes of society. While working as a medical practitioner in a renowned hospital, he encountered numerous patients who couldn’t afford the necessary medical attention due to financial constraints or a lack of accessibility. Determined to make a difference, he decided to take healthcare to their doorstep through a unique initiative – a mobile health clinic. “Health is a fundamental human right that is not available to so many of us. Through my clinic, I try to serve those who need medical support but are unable to afford it. Earlier, I used to charge Rs. 50, but now I have stopped charging that amount as some are not able to pay even that,” says Hebbi, who started the mobile health clinic in 2000. He obtained his medical degree from the Bijapur Medical College in 2007. He belongs to the remote village of Namadapura in the Vijayapura district.

mobile clinic

39 year-old Dr. Hebbi has provided care to 1,27,000 patients during the last 20 years and established 795 camps all throughout Karnataka. The idea of the mobile clinic was simple yet revolutionary. Dr. Hebbi converted a van into a fully-equipped medical unit, complete with essential diagnostic tools and medications. The clinic-on-wheels became a lifeline for many underprivileged residents who couldn’t afford transportation or faced challenges accessing medical facilities.

The mobile clinic traverses through narrow alleys and congested neighbourhoods. Driven by a team of volunteers, it brings quality healthcare right to the doorsteps of those in need. At present, the mobile clinic is catering to 7 slums, 13 villages, and 5 schools in North Bangalore. “I tie-up with local doctors, Urban health centres run by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Primary Health centers, Rotary Clubs, and pharmaceutical companies to sustain this service. I have a network of 350 doctors. Since everything is voluntary, partnerships are crucial,” he says.

The mobile clinic

The services provided by the mobile health clinic are comprehensive. From general check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings to treating common ailments and providing basic medications, Dr. Hebbi’s team addresses a wide range of medical needs. His mobile clinic sees anywhere from 80 to 100 patients every day. The mobile van has an oxygen cylinder and an oxygen concentrator, and it can perform basic blood tests, ECGs, and blood pressure checks. “A lot of patients who come to us don’t know or want to believe that they have diabetes or sugar. We have to diagnose them, convince them, and then treat them. Right now, we are giving free medicines to 22 patients suffering from diabetes and high BP.”

They also conduct health awareness sessions, educating the community about preventive measures and the importance of regular healthcare check-ups. Moreover, the mobile clinic serves as a referral unit, facilitating advanced treatments by collaborating with hospitals and specialists when necessary.

mobile clinic

The impact of Dr. Hebbi’s mobile health clinic has been transformative. Families that were once burdened by illness and medical expenses now have access to timely and affordable healthcare. The clinic has been instrumental in identifying and addressing health issues in their early stages, preventing complications and saving lives. Additionally, the health awareness programs have empowered the community to take charge of their well-being, leading to healthier lifestyles and reduced incidences of preventable diseases.

In need of medicines

However, running a mobile health clinic in a densely populated and diverse city like Bangalore comes with its own set of challenges. Dr. Hebbi and his team face logistical hurdles, funding constraints, and occasionally encounter resistance from skeptical communities. Yet, their unwavering commitment and the gratitude they receive from the beneficiaries keep them moving forward. “The biggest obstacle in our path is posed by medicines. Earlier, we were getting medicines from pharma companies for free, but now that has stopped. So I request people to come forward and donate medicines to us. There are Jan Aushadhi and generic medicine centres but they offer medicines at subsidised rates whereas we need them free of cost,” expresses Dr. Hebbi. 

A health campaign for Right to Health Bill

The doctor started a health yatra in 2021 to promote awareness about the Right to Health Bill by driving across the country. He travelled from Kanyakumari to Vijayapura, then to Pune and Mumbai. Due to the health of his employees and Covid requirements, he had to shorten the trip. Hebbi is restarting his Health Yatra from August 15, but this time it will just be in Karnataka. “The country requires the Right to Health Bill, which will guarantee that patients receive emergency medical care at no additional cost. With Ayushman Bharat, each family is covered for healthcare costs up to Rs. 5 lakh. It is not enough. I wish to raise awareness of the legislation and its advantages,” emphasises the doctor.

Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi’s dedication to the service of the underprivileged is an inspiration for the entire medical fraternity. His selfless approach to healthcare transcends the boundaries of social and economic disparities. It proves that a compassionate heart and a determined spirit can bring healing and hope to those who need it the most.

(Those interested in volunteering or donating medicines can contact: 6363832491)

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