Tackling life with grit & grace
In the autumn of 1998, bubbly teenager Romita Ghosh, a student of class 9, was full of life like any other adolescent of her age.
Life was going on pretty well till her constant fever made her parents anxious and they finally consulted a doctor. After a series of tests that took almost a year, she was diagnosed with stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
“There I was all set for my class 10 boards like any other child of my age but destiny had other plans for me. I finally flew to Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, with my parents where the battle with deadly disease began,” says Romita, recalling the ordeal.
“After two years of being bed-ridden uncertainty I miraculously entered remission after a series of chemotherapies and a big kit of medicines. After those two years, I knew there was a cause I wanted to take up. I completed my studies as I had already lost one year. I remember frequent visits between Lucknow and Mumbai. During my stay at the hospital I saw the sad part of life and its struggle,” she recalls.
She says there were innumerable patients and there were very few or maybe almost no cancer hospital in our country except Tata Memorial Hospital.
“Patients came from far and wide. Many reached the hospital after selling all their property to ensure treatment for their loved ones or themselves. The scene there used to be was so depressing and heart wrenching. My parents, who were in central government job in ONGC, stood by me and motivated me throughout. It was then I decided that after my exams my first step will to take up cancer research,” Romita says.
That was the time Romita decided she would do something for the people who were struggling due to health issues.
“It was only after I realised that I too wanted to make a difference in other patients’ lives within a short time. I started thorough research on the subject and came up with conclusions that what all needed to be done to take the correct treatment to the needy people at no cost,” she said.
In 2011, her first healthcare startup ‘Admirus’ was launched to bring in the latest medical device innovations to India so that patients could be treated as per international protocol.
“I took on the dismal healthcare system in India by creating a system that would make medical devices accessible and affordable to everyone by integrating technology with operations to bring about a paradigm shift in logistics of medical supplies, especially in underserved and rural areas,” she says.
“MedSamaan was the initiative for UP’s hinterland to arrest the increasing trend of poor patients having to sell off/mortgage property to seek tertiary treatment in Lucknow and Delhi. And today a central hub located at Lucknow feeds Kanpur, Bahraich, Gorakhpur and Bareilly. Varanasi, Jhansi and Agra region will join the list soon,” adds Romita.
The young fighter is also undertaking sustained efforts to facilitate mass-screening of cervical-cancer among rural women who are too shy or too poor to approach doctors.
Talking about her biggest project she says, “My biggest project has been to collaboratively convert two-wheeler motorbikes to fully-equipped feeder ambulances so that absence of ‘pucca’ roads in UP no longer remains a challenge for patients to reach hospitals on time.
MedSamaan’s efforts to stop unethical re-use of bio-medical waste has been made possible through a microwave machine that is manufactured in Lucknow. Today, Uttar Pradesh is playing a vital role in my journey to revolutionise healthcare in India.
On Winning HT Woman Award
“The award and recognition from HT will always be my favourite achievement. It has and will always give a boost to my work and passion. I feel I have got wings and can fly as high as I want. Though I did relapse partially last year and had to put up a fight again but with this award I know I have a lot left to achieve. When I met other winners I felt so encouraged and decided that when they can put up such a brave fight in their respective fields and emerge ultimate winners, why can’t I match them?”
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