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Saturday, August 11, 2018




He started this service on August 15, 1973. The queue of patients from rural areas has only grown at what has come to be known as the ‘world’s longest-serving free clinic’. But now, it is facing a financial crunch.

Medicines are expensive, but the good doctor provides them to his patients free of cost. “I incur expenses of up to `1,50,000 every week. It is becoming difficult to manage. My friends keep helping me now and then,” he says. Dr Rao has now started a crowd-funding through Milaap. “It will be of great help if people donate for the initiative. They will help treat rural patients and the money will go towards buying them medicine,” he says.

The free clinic turns 45 this year. “Now, every Sunday, I treat 700-1,200 patients,” he says. He had opened the clinic two days after passing his MBBS exams. His father inaugurated it.
“My father was an engineer and he was a part of the Tungabhadra Dam Project. We stayed in a camp at Vaddarahatti village in Gangavathi. It was a backward village and there was no power too. I had seen so many workers and villagers suffering from diseases and ailments, and they would have no money to afford treatment. Then, I decided to serve rural and poor people free of cost,” he says.
Dr Rao is so dedicated to the clinic that he ensures that he is back on Sunday at his house in T Begur, which is on Bangalore-Tumkur highway and 35 kilometres away from Bengaluru city. Last year, when he was on an official trip to London, he flew all the way back to Bengaluru realising that his patients would be waiting for him. “Patients from far away villages come on Saturday night and sleep on the roads or in front of the clinic. Some of them even start their journey at
4 am. Around 10 to 12 people book an autorickshaw and arrive together. I do not like to disappoint them. We serve food to all of them since they would have gone without a meal for a long time.”
Following father’s legacy
His sons Charith and Abhijith Bhograj are also doctors. While Charith is an interventional cardiologist, Abhijith is an endocrinologist. Both treat patients at the clinic too. The trio treat a range of diseases from cold and cough, skin diseases, dental problems and more. Records show that they have treated two million patients until last year.