Shuchin Bajaj featured in The Economic Times: Fixing India’s broken healthcare infra at the bottom, Ujala Cygnus is a rare example

Vikas Dandekar | January 25, 2024

“Over 80% of doctors practice around 20% of India’s population,” says Shuchin Bajaj, our 2022 New Voices Fellow, in this piece for The Economic Times. Highlighting the profound asymmetry in the availability of and access to healthcare services in rural India,  he notes that out 806 districts in India less than 300 have access to tertiary or secondary emergency facilities – leaving a deficit of at least 600 million population with “ill-equipped government facilities” or “unscrupulous profiteering private hospitals”. As the country reports an alarming rise in chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiac, kidney and liver ailments, this asymmetry, Bajaj adds, urgently needs a big change at the policy level.

Based on a study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),  over half of the reported cardiac deaths in the country are due to delay in seeking timely medical care. “Only 10.8% of the subjects reached an appropriate health facility early that is within the first golden hour of the onset of the symptoms. This was similar in cardiac and stroke cases,” the researchers noted.

As per Bajaj, who is the founder-director of New Delhi-based Ujala Cygnus Hospitals, the concept of “golden hour” has little meaning in rural India, where health infrastructure is badly lagging in demand.

Ujala Cygnus, born out of personal tragedy and the lack of tertiary care hospitals in small towns, aims to “take healthcare to places where patients are forced to travel three-four hours”. With 21 hospitals and 500 doctors in five northern states, Bajaj who was recently awarded the Global Social Entrepreneur of the year at World Economic Forum, is slowly and actively closing that gap in tertiary care.


To learn more about how Bajaj and Ujala Cygnus are transforming healthcare in rural India click below.