Dalli–Rajhara is a small town in the Balod district of Chhattisgarh, home to iron-ore mines that feed the Bhilai steel plant. Situated in the town is the Shaheed hospital, famous for being run for, and by, mine workers. While it provides many services—such as internal medicine, surgery and psychiatry—the mainstay of the hospital is its department of obstetrics and gynaecology. Dr Saibal Jana, one of the founders, has been carrying out deliveries since the hospital was established in 1983. Pregnant women travel as far as a hundred kilometres in the hope of a safe delivery at the hospital.
The Shaheed hospital was initially financed by mine workers. They were inspired by Shankar Guha Niyogi, who founded the Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh, a trade union for miners, in 1977. The hospital was named after the 11 striking contract workers killed in police firing that year. Although the hospital excelled in its services, it did not grow significantly until the early 2000s, due to a lack of funds. Its clientele was restricted to the mine workers, and villagers from nearby districts. It charged its patients a minimal amount in order to sustain itself.
The hospital’s fate started to change in 2008, with the introduction of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, a health-insurance programme started by the then Congress-led central government. The Shaheed hospital was empanelled with the RSBY, under which the prescribed rates for procedures were significantly higher than what it was charging its patients. As it was receiving a large number of patients who were below the poverty line, and therefore eligible to file an insurance claim, the management started to use the surplus amount to develop the hospital. Since then, the hospital has added a new multistorey building, with dedicated wards for maternal and child health, and another one to house its junior doctors.
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