Kumudini: A trailblazer in healthcare charity – The Daily Star

When Covid-19 patients are spending hundreds of thousands of taka to get treatment at hospitals and clinics, a hospital in Mirzapur — a small town in Tangail district — has been providing free treatment for all Covid-19 patients since May last year.
All the Covid-19 patients in this hospital can have free bed, free oxygen therapy, free check-up and free food throughout their stay.
This is no other than martyred philanthropist Ranada Prashad Shaha’s Kumudini Hospital.
Animesh Bhowmick, assistant general manager of Kumudini Hospital, said, “We do not take any charge for general bed and oxygen therapy from Covid-19 patients. They have to spend Tk 3,000-4,000 per day for ICU beds, whereas in other hospitals the cost is more than Tk 30,000 per day.” 
“We also do antigen tests for these patients free of cost. And, for RT-PCR test we collect samples and send them to the government designated testing facilities at a cost of Tk 100 per sample. So, patients can get all the services under one roof,” he said.
Thanks to these services, Kumudini Hospital has become one of the most popular healthcare providers in the region.
However, the hospital’s name is linked to a tragic incident.
In 1903, seven-year-old Ranada Prasad Shaha saw his mother, Kumudini Devi dying from post-natal tetanus, as she could not be taken to a hospital, which was miles away from Mirzapur, then a remote village.
This tragedy inspired Shaha, who later became one of the wealthiest businessmen in Bengal, to dedicate his life for the welfare of the poor and sick and for empowering women.
He committed all of his property and savings to build Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal (KWTB), which is now one of Bangladesh’s biggest charitable organisations dedicatedly working for medical services, education and women’s empowerment.
On May 7, 1971 RP Shaha and his 26-year-old son Bhavani Prasad Shaha were picked up by the Pakistan army, and they never returned. However, this irreparable loss did not stop this philanthropist family from continuing their charitable initiatives. 
At present, KWTB runs nine organisations, revenues from all of which are spent for charitable purposes.
KWTB has recently embarked on another humanitarian venture: establishing a global standard medical research centre and hospital. It has been named as “Kumudini International Institute of Medical Sciences and Cancer Research (KIIMSCaRe)”.
KIIMSCaRe complex will include a 300-bed general hospital fitted with in-built laboratory for diagnosis, emergency beds and indoor and outdoor services; a 50-bed designated cancer hospital to provide diagnosis, treatment and palliative care; a medical college that will offer MBBS and ​BDS degrees; a nursing institute to offer BSc degree in nursing; and a medical technology institute. 
According to Rajiv Prasad Shaha, grandson of RP Shaha and managing director of KWTB, around 430 decimals of land of KWTB in Narayanganj have been developed for this massive project.
In keeping with the founder’s principles, KIIMSCaRe plans to provide free quality treatment to the poor and needy. It will provide the same quality treatment to all, but how much a patient pays will depend on how much they can afford.
“Planning and land development have already been completed. Now, we are gathering resources, one of our biggest challenges at present. This is our dream project, and we are hopeful that we shall complete it, overcoming all the obstacles,” said Rajiv Shaha.
“We would also like to conduct fundamental research in the field of medical sciences, particularly cancer treatment, at KIIMSCaRe,” stated Rajiv.
The oldest and most prominent of the family’s philanthropic ventures is Kumudini Hospital, which is a pioneer in providing high-quality treatment at a surprisingly low cost.
Formally inaugurated in July 1944 by Lord RG Casey, the then governor of British Bengal, it is now a 1,050-bed general hospital, which provides free treatment to all who cannot afford medical care.
Even for solvent patients, the treatment cost is very low. People can visit specialist doctors for one month continuously by purchasing a Tk 20 ticket from the outdoor section. All kinds of general surgery and gynaecological operation charges range from Tk 300 to 6,000.
Annually, the hospital serves more than 4,50,000 patients through outdoor services and 60,000  through indoor and facilitates more than 25,000 minor and major surgeries. ​
Rajiv Shaha said, “We only receive nominal treatment cost from the admitted patients. We do not take any bed charge, and we deliver free food to all admitted patients.” 
“We provide 22 special services at the hospital, and we have a team of highly-dedicated doctors, nurses and technologists equipped with the most modern technology,” he added.
Besides these, KWTB founded Kumudini Nursing Institute in 1973, Kumudini Women’s Medical College in 2001 and Kumudini Medical Technology Institute in 2019 — making its hospital complex in Mirzapur self-sufficient and one of the largest healthcare facilities of the country.
Till 2020, 4,582 nurses have graduated from the nursing institute, 1,921 doctors have graduated from the medical college, and in the first year of establishment, 14 medical technologists have graduated from the medical technology institute. 
“We provide free education and boarding facilities to students from underprivileged families. The fees we get from solvent students and patients are spent to subsidise educational expenses of poor students and treatment of poor patients. We operate absolutely on a non-profit basis,” said Rajiv Shaha.
“We try to ensure that students who graduate from our institutions are imbued with the ideals of selflessness and altruism. Our motto is to serve people from all walks of life regardless of their caste, class or creed,” stated Rajiv.
ভারতে পাচার হয়ে যাওয়া মেয়েকে উদ্ধারের জন্যে এক অদম্য মা নিজেই পাচার হয়েছিলেন। মেয়েকে নিয়ে দেশে ফিরতে সেই মায়ের অভিযাত্রা যেন সিনেমার গল্পকেও হার মানায়।


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