There are hundreds of rare skin diseases. While some are minor, others can be chronic and serious. Not every poor person can afford a skin treatment unless it is free or low-cost. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, in India is one such chronic skin disease the victims of which are often the poor and underprivileged.
There is an old saying Charity begins at home, but nowadays charity is rarely found among medical professionals who are motivated by commercial benefits. Charitable gestures towards poor and underprivileged sections of society are not what one gets to see today by medical professionals. However, surprisingly, it is not the same case with Lucknow’s Dr Vivek Kumar.
The 63-year-old dermatologist is exceptional in treating poor patients with skin diseases free of cost. He is best known for treating the underprivileged with leprosy for almost 25 years now. It is important to note that Indian society discriminates and socially ostracises people who have leprosy. States like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, who have a relatively higher number of leprosy patients in the country, prohibit such people from participating in social gatherings, elections, shared communities, making them lose contact with the world. Dr Vivek, on the other hand, treats leprosy patients in Lucknow’s rural areas as equal, providing free medical services like treatment, medicines, and help in diagnosing the disease.
The profession of a Dermatologist is one of the most expensive health services in India; offering free treatment to poor patients is indeed noble work. He manages medicines for his patients from free specimen samples that he receives from various pharmaceutical companies. Most of the medical representatives have also been sensitised with his noble approach, and support him in organising free medical camps, check-up, medicines, etc. in rural
areas of Lucknow.
“The only way to live a really happy life is to live within your resources and share your extras with the less fortunate. I want to minimise the suffering of the patients who often come to me,” expressed Dr Kumar. He feels that helping those who may not be able to afford the treatment is the best service of humanity and God.
The unawareness about leprosy and the social stigma still prevail at large in Uttar Pradesh. According to the National Health Profile, 2017 report, 13,423 new cases were detected in Uttar Pradesh till September 2016. The prevalence rate was 0.80 per 10,000 population in the state.
In most cases, leprosy patients are untreated and abandoned by their own families and society. Dr Vivek helps them in diagnosing the disease to providing free medical care until they get cured. Any leprosy patient who cannot afford the medical expenses, with a valid Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, can avail the free facilities under him. He runs his rural clinic five days a week out of which he spends two days in Missionaries of Charity, Mohanlalganj, two days in Harbilas Bal Chikitsalya, Charbagh, Lucknow and one day at CB Gupta Agriculture University, Bakshi Ka Talab.
Surprisingly, Dr Vivek takes only a single rupee as donation, if somebody insists to pay. The money collected is utilised in organising free-medical camps in various rural parts of Lucknow. He even provides free consultation to many rural and urban poor of Uttar Pradesh.
He comes from the family of famous agriculture scientist, Dr Ram Krishna, who received the civilian award, Padma Shri (posthumous), for his contribution in social services. Following his father’s footprints, Dr Vivek now carries forward the family tradition of selfless services to society. It was his father who advised him to explore the rural areas for better understanding and in-depth knowledge on various diseases, physical suffering of the poor, he says.
“Doctors should always have a heart for poor patients and focus on treating the patients with minimal medicine, pathology. The clinical sense should be good among the doctors to meet and understand the requirements of the poor,” advised Dr Vivek.
The former Mayor of Lucknow, Dr Dauji Gupta, is all praised for Dr Vivek and his noble deeds towards the underprivileged. The former Mayor expressed that Dr Vivek has set an example for rest of the medical professionals and society at large. “Dr Vivek Kumar has shown the exemplary determination of selfless services for those people who cannot even think of getting expert treatment for skin diseases,” said Dr Gupta. It is rare to come across a doctor like Dr Vivek who takes personal hardships to heal the pain of poor people at almost no cost.