Dr. Shelly Batra and Sandeep Ahuja founded Operation ASHA in 2006 with a compelling vision: to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. The first step in this fight is to eradicate TB, and then add other products and services to the delivery pipeline of Operation ASHA. Their clear-sighted goals and unwavering dedication prompted policy-makers, health practitioners, and investors to join from both sides of the Atlantic. Shortly following, an advising and fundraising group grew in the US to form Operation ASHA, USA.
A doctor and a former government official, Dr. Shelly Batra and Sandeep Ahuja, were unlikely partners, but in 1998 they teamed up to finance Dr. Batra’s free treatment and surgeries for those unable to afford life-saving procedures. Sandeep helped her organize a group of friends, relatives and colleagues who supported Batra’s work regularly.
After founding Operation ASHA, Sandeep and Shelly developed a pipeline to pump in services and products to the most disadvantaged. They decided to focus on the eradication of tuberculosis (TB). India tops the world’s high-burden TB list. The UN declared tuberculosis a global emergency in 2003 and numbers of infected TB patients have reached epidemic proportions in India in the last decade. In OpASHA’s first year, 2.2 million new TB cases and 400,000 TB deaths were recorded in India.
Operation ASHA began with one TB treatment center in September 2006 and enrolled 26 new patients within 3 months. Today, OpASHA provides tuberculosis treatment and education services in more than 4,000 slums in nine Indian states and two provinces in Cambodia. With a successful model in place, Operation ASHA continues to grow and expand beyond India’s borders to Southeast Asia and Africa, where millions more suffer from tuberculosis. Operation ASHA is now covering 14.6 million people worldwide.