In the early 90s, after completing their medical training, Dr Regi and Dr Lalitha worked in a hospital in Gandhigram. People from far-flung areas travelled miles for the treatment of preventable illnesses like diarrhea and childhood pneumonia.
Rattled by the lack of healthcare access, the couple decided to backpack for a year, and document the most sensitive areas in need of help.
In the advent of any medical emergency, the tribals would have to travel to Salem or to Dharmapuri. Because the nearest hospital was more than 50 kilometers away, to find one in the event of surgical intervention meant travel over 100 kilometres.
The couple decided to stay and make affordable healthcare available to two lakh people. Since then, it’s been 25 years and the couple is only moving forward with their project, Tribal Health Initiative (THI).
The hospital was functioning from a hut that had a single room which operated as an out-patient and in-patient unit. All it had was a 100-W bulb and a bench for the patient to lay on.
Similarly, they also run an old age insurance scheme which provides access to free healthcare all-year round at Rs 100. But their work doesn’t end here. The couple has also started an array of other projects to empower the community.