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Four days ago, Charles, the Prince of Wales, met some specialist doctors in the city to discuss various issues about rural health care. The British royal was particularly impressed with a free clinic, which perhaps is the largestin the world, serving the rural parts of Bangalore.

Every Sunday, for the past 40 years,senior physician and cardiologist Dr B Ramana Rao has been running the free primary health centre (PHC) at T Begur village in Nelamangala taluk, and has treated nearly 1.8 million patients. Charles was so impressed with Rao’s model that he wanted to take it back to his homeland. The doctor gave him a CD containing a detailed presentation of the project. While discussing the UK’s national health scheme with the city doctors, and sharing notes on government and private initiatives in health care in the city, Prince Charles was briefed about the free PHC that is being run by Dr Rao.

Dr B Ramana Rao with the princeDr B Ramana Rao with the prince

"I explained our work and the model that has made a difference in the lives of poor and needy people in the villages. The prince had a lot of questions and sought insight about how we manage funding and treatment. He was very interested in the project, assured his support and complimented me," Rao told Mirror.

The 40–year old clinic at T Begur, which Rao used to manage with the help of his wife, Hema, till his doctor sonsjoinedhim,getsaround700patients every Sunday. People come from as far as 100 km for treatment, and the queue begins at 6 am. As the popularity of the PHC spread, voulnteers from surrounding villages came forward to help Rao.

Even Wikipedia has recorded Dr Rao and his project. "It is, perhaps, the world's longest–serving free clinic, and I have treated about 1.8 million patients so far," Rao said. Patients at the centre are provided free medicines, injections, nebulisation and also lunch. Those needing hospitalisation are referred to nearby hospitals. Rao buys medicines from his funds, and some are donated by pharma companies and philanthrophists. As a tribute to the good doctor, a road has been named after him in Begur.

Times of India
16 November 2013,
By - S Kushala

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