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Kolkata’s doctor-politician Dr Fuad Halim offers dialysis for Rs 100

Mansooruddin Faridi /Md Shamim Hossain (Kolkata)

Dialysis for only Rs 100 – Sounds incredible!  This service by a doctor in Kolkata has indeed saved hundreds of lives and given hope to those who could not afford the repeated and costly treatment for malfunctioning or failed kidneys. The man behind this mission is Dr. Fuad Halim, a Communist politician who is the embodiment of the selfless service that a medical practitioner is supposed to be.

He started this initiative some 20 years ago in association with some like-minded doctors to support someone’s life and keep a family’s hopes alive. This is a unique initiative in the era of increasing fees for medical services every day. This is probably the only service where the charges have been reduced in response to the growing desperation of poor people to cope with the rising costs of treatment.

The charges for dialysis were initially fixed at Rs.600 and today it is Rs.100.

Dr Fuad Halim donating blood

Speaking with Awaz-The Voice, Dr. Fuad Halim, 54, said that the sole thought behind his mission is to support needy families and his passion to protect patients from facing torture in the name of treatment.

Dr. Fuad Halim is a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). His social attitudes and political beliefs are nearly inherited as his father Hashim Abdul Halim was a left leader and former Speaker of the Bengal Legislative Assembly for more than two decades.

Interestingly, his wife Saira Shah Halim, an MLA unsuccessfully contested the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as a CPI(M) candidate.

Dr. Fuad Halim also contested the 2021 Assembly elections and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but during his campaign, it was never about politics; he kept on addressing the poor and what he had to offer to them.

Fuad Halim was born in Kolkata and he studied at St. Anthony’s School and later St. Joseph’s Collee. He obtained his degree in medicine from the Neil Ratan Sarkar Medical College. He later did a fellowship under the Apollo Group of Royal College, Hyderabad.

Fuad Halim says that he could launch and sustain this initiative only because of his like-minded friends and helpers who, he says are the bedrock of his work for the poor. “Without their help and support this work was not at all possible,” he says.

Dr. Fuad Halim went into mission mode during the COVID pandemic where he performed about 24,000 done dialysis for a token fee of Rs 50! Back then hospitals were closed for regular patients because of the overload of COVID patients and the income of people had fallen drastically.

Dr Fuad Halim campaigning for his election

“At present, our rate is Rs 100 per dialysis. You will be surprised that when we started it was Rs 600 per dialysis. After two years we reduced it to Rs 550. In 2009, it reduced to 500. In the next two years, it became 450. Before COVID we were offering dialysis for Rs 300 and during the pandemic, it was further reduced to 50 rupees.”

Today the fee for one session of the dialysis is Rs 100.

Also during the dialysis, for accessories the charges are nominal. “We have a daycare center for people undergoing dialysis. I have a chamber in the same, I also see my patients and my consultation fee is Rs 50.”

 Dr. Fuad Halim started with a mission to help people get their cataracts removed from their eyes at a nominal fee.  “In 2004, we conducted 3,000 cataract operations to correct the vision of people. This was followed by a campaign on blood donation.”

 The organization Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp with which Dr. Halim was associated was also conferred upon a national award in 2009. “Thereafter we launched our dialysis mission. Today hundreds of patients are getting dialysis done in our facility,” he says.

Dr. Fuad Halim’s dialysis mission is launched in association with the 82-year-old organization – People’s Relief Committee.

“As its president, I oversee all its mission of providing low-cost screening tests, treatment, and nursing homes, where people are provided with low-cost treatment.”

He said there is no mix-up of his role as a doctor and as a politician. Dr. Halim says, “ There are no two sides in my life; I am doing politics with the same thought with which I became a doctor, i.e. under the spirit of service.”

He says that to save the life of a patient who is suffering from a kidney ailment, it’s important to do the right dialysis for the right period. If a person undergoes half dialysis the quality of his life will not be good; his life will not improve.

Patients undergoing dialysis at Dr Fuad Halim’s hospital

“The biggest problem is that people cannot manage their expenses. So our main idea is that we will reduce the cost of dialysis. That is why we used various methods to reduce the cost of dialysis, in which donation also plays a major role.”

Dr Halim’s interest in social service probably comes from his family background where politics is a way of serving the people. His grandfather contested the Kolkata Corporation election in 1925 with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

After that, his father Hashim Abdul Halim joined the Communist Party and continued to work as an activist and worked at the grassroots.

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Dr. Fuad Halim says, “My political life is not different from medical practice. I am the same person and my thoughts are also the same. My service and my politics have the same basis. I treat people as the result of a revolutionary thought because our thought is that people should have the right to health. Since people are facing problems, I try to address these as much as possible. I also realize that a single person cannot change the world; so my association with my friends from school. They are my strength and courage. Such efforts cannot be done alone. I have received tremendous support and backing from everyone.”

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