When Doctor Regi M George and Lalitha got married, The couple found their calling in service to the underprivileged and wanted to use their knowledge where it was needed the most. In 1993 when they visited Sittilingi, a remote and ignored tribal area in Tamilnadu, the nearest hospital was 50 kilometers away and the place had the highest infant mortality rate in the country. They immediately knew they had to do something about it.
"We were inspired by the Gandhian principles of wanting to serve the people and helping the poor in our country"
Twenty five years ago, they started by building a small hut for a hospital with just a single room, a hundred watt bulb and a bench.
Regi and Lalitha called their service the Tribal Health Initiative (THI). Their perseverance and continued service has brought about dramatic change in the living conditions of the natives.Infant mortality rate in Sittilingi has reduced to 20/1000 which is one of the lowest in India and there are no mothers dying in childbirth for the past 5 years.
The nutrition levels of children and the general well being of the people have improved to a great extent.Now the hospital has gradually increased in size and grown to a 35 bed facility with an ICU, X-Ray, Ultrasound, a modern operation theatre and all the other latest facilities so that no tribal would have to go to the city to get treated. It is the only hospital for a 100 km radius now and they treat around 100000 patients annually. Today, over 21 neighbouring villages are benefiting from the Tribal Health Initiative that sprung at Sittilingi.
When they first came here 25 years back in 1993, they were faced with a lot of challenges. With absolutely no money with them they had to raise donations to do even the simplest of medical procedures, they were in isolation with no friends around and the nearest phone being 100 kms away
. Their kids were just growing up and they had no schools for them here. They faced tough resistance from the villagers too but once they saw the couple struggling and still living amidst them with an aim making a difference, the villagers started having a lot of love and respect for them. They are now adored as elders in the society.
"We have been providing low cost care to the tribals for the past 25 years but as we improve the quality of treatment and keep doing more complex surgeries we will require funds to keep this hospital running. We will need to pay our staff, pay for the medicines and maintaining the equipment also.
It is unfair to ask a tribal population to support this level of healthcare for them. If we stop doing this then they won't have the means to visit the city for treatment, they will just go back to their huts and die."
Dr Regi & Lalitha need your support to keep this running.