30 September, 2020

Wanted: Fools Like Pugazhendi!

A village clinic where patients pay anything between Rs 5-Rs 25 for treatment and medicines

Wanted: Fools Like Pugazhendi!
Dr V. Pugazhendi is a man possessed. In his efforts to take affordable medicare to far- flung villages, he was aided by another, equally possessed—A. Shanmugam. Teacher and social activist, Shanmugam was known as the white-white man. Undeterred by his BP and diabetes, he together with Pugazhendi started a clinic in Sadras village in 1990. The next year, another activist, V. Saravanan, joined in and they set up another clinic at neighbouring Vayalur, again on rented premises. These villages, some 60 km from Chennai, are near Kalpakkam, which houses several nuclear establishments.

Shanmugam remained active till the end. In fact, he breathed his last in a bus while on a medicine purchase trip to Chennai in ’96. MNVP, Makkal Nala Vazhvu Pani (Forum for People’s Good Life), was the brainchild of Pugazhendi, Shanmugam and Saravanan. Its aim was to provide economical healthcare to the poor around Kalpakkam.

Pugazhendi was a gold medallist from Madurai Medical College. "Even as students, some friends and I had decided to serve in villages," he says. This March, MNVP...



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