Dr Shelly Batra and Sandeep Ahuja, Ex-IRS ‘91 Batch, met in 1998 and decided to pool their strengths. Shelly was a surgical specialist with a successful private practice, but was operating disadvantaged patients for free, after graduating from King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, India. Sandeep was an officer in the Indian Revenue Service, who would help colleagues to get medical care through his own network of friends and doctors. Sandeep decided to support Shelly’s work. This led Shelly doing hundreds of free surgeries, without worrying for support.
In 2004, Sandeep went to study at the University of Chicago, and was impressed by the size of the philanthropic sector in the US. He discussed with Shelly and they decided to establish Operation ASHA to impact the lives of the disadvantaged at a large scale. Initially, they chose to focus on tuberculosis (TB), the biggest public health crisis in the world, but neglected by most donors and large NGOs.
Sandeep and Shelly’s clear-sighted goals and unwavering dedication prompted many health practitioners, researchers, policy makers and donors to join hands from India, US and other parts of
the world. Many said that Operation ASHA’s model could deliver any health service. This proved to be true. Today, Operation ASHA provides treatment, education and prevention for TB, hemophilia, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and adolescent and menstrual health, serving 15.6 million people in over 5000 slums and villages of India and Cambodia. In the past 8 years, Operation ASHA’s model has been replicated in six other countries.
In 2015, Columbia University, US, requested modifications of OpASHA’s technology to track school attendance and has used it successfully to reduce chronic absenteeism and dropout rates. Thus,
Operation ASHA’s doorstep delivery model has gone beyond health. Its low cost, efficient and deep last miles can be used to provide any kind of service to the disadvantaged even in inaccessible and remote geographies.