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Pune: Doctor's campaign turns gender bias on its head

The peace in Hadapsar area is suddenly shattered by a man banging away at a steel plate with a stick and ward boys and nurses running on the street offering ‘congratulations’ and offering local peda sweets to people on the streets.
The commotion was created by the staff of the Medicare Hospital to celebrate the birth of a female child.

Locals are familiar with Medicare Hospital’s revolutionary policy of free delivery for all females born there, propounded by its founder and owner, Dr Ganesh Rakh.

“We provide all women free delivery, whether normal or complicated, and post-delivery care — for every girl child born here, since 2007. Till date, we have supervised the birth of around 270 females here,” a proud Rakh, (39), said.

Terming it as his ‘solitary campaign (in India) to prevent female foeticide and empower women right from birth by fighting gender bias and prejudices”, Rakh said the hospital gives such free deliveries despite incurring a loss of an average of R10,000 for a normal delivery and around R25,000 for complicated cases requiring surgery.

“In fact, many affluent families even offer money, but we direct them to help out the poorest women like labourers and domestic workers so they can avail of three months’ maternal leave without bothering about work,” said Rakh.
When he started the hospital in 2007, after begging for loans from friends and relatives, most people, including his family members, ridiculed his plans.

The son of a labourer, Adinath and a domestic worker, Rakh, who qualified as a medico in 2001, set up a roaring private practice, simultaneously completing his gynaecology specialisation. Hailing from a very poor family in Solapur, his parents migrated to Pune in search of work. As Rakh was good in academics, he secured scholarships in school and college till his medical degree.

“It is now my turn to repay society,” Rakh said “Initially, nobody supported me. Later, my senior gynaecologist, Dr Iqbal Shaikh, waived off charges for any female child’s delivery. Then followed my two paediatric surgeons, Anil Chavan and Santosh Shind,” Rakh said.

Soon, the entire hospital staff joined in and did not complain if their salaries were delayed occasionally as it was for a noble cause, Rakh explained. In another major initiative by August 15 last year, Rakh will open a 15-bed neo-natal intensive care unit — also free for all female infants born premature or with serious problems.

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