Providing value-added healthcare facilities to everyone with a reasonable expenditure can create a magical world, where the prevention of epidemics, reduction of the burden from non-communicable diseases, and improvement of healthcare management for women, children, and elderly individuals will be easier. When the lack of affordable healthcare pushes millions of Indian families below the poverty line every year and thus jeopardizes the government’s mission to uplift the economy of poor families, an initiative like the Affordable Health Mission (AHM) by GNRC hospitals under the leadership of Dr. Nomal Chandra Borah in northeast India (NE) makes sense.

Affordable Health Mission shows a light at the end of the tunnel as it helps common people access an affordable, accessible and quality healthcare service. So it may be termed as a dawn of hope for those economically downtrodden families in the far eastern part of the populous country. A brief biography of Dr. NC Borah, who was born in a marginal farmer’s family of eastern Assam to become one of the best known neurologists across the south Asian nation, depicts a dream to be realized with an affordable health benefit to millions of poor families in northeast India. Published by Chennai-based Notion Press, the biography is titled ‘Hope dawns in the East’ and co-authored by Mumbai-based communication professionals Arnab Mukherjee and Sushmita Sarkar.

Highlighting the promise of ‘Health for all, smiles for all’, the book comprises some articles, penned by Dr. Borah, on various pertinent issues like improving the medical education system, dealing with the shortage of specialist doctors, highlighting the patient’s right to have a second medical opinion, troubles created by many doctor’s illegible handwriting in prescriptions, if healthcare is a science of medicines or an art of healing, etc.  Dr. Borah passionately argued in his pieces that health is a fundamental human right and it’s critical for human dignity.

Several photographs, including Dr. Borah’s father Karneswar Borah and mother Kanaklata Borah, are incorporated in the book. His close association with legendary musician Bharat Ratna Dr Bhupen Hazarika and Jnanpith awardee author Dr. Indira (Mamoni Raisom) Goswami is also reflected in the selected photographs. Former President Pranab Mukherjee, former State chief ministers Tarun Gogoi and Sarbananda Sonowal and many other luminaries are also seen with Dr. Borah along with his adorable family– his wife, Dr. Jayshree Borah, two daughters Priyanka and Satabdee, and his son Madhurjya.

The GNRC group of hospitals was established in 1987 to cater the needs of nearly 60 million people in northeast Bharat.  Dr. Borah later expanded its network of hospitals with a unit at Sixmile (Guwahati), another at Dispur, one more at Barasat (West Bengal) and a unique one in North Guwahati. A pool of community health workers was also created to promote healthcare  in rural and semi-urban areas.  The group not only supports the patients under Ayushman Bharat (PM Jan Arogya Yojana) and Atal Amrit Abhiyan, sponsored by the Union government in New Delhi and State government in Dispur, but also extends free medical care to all accident and emergency patients for the first 24 hours.

The unique initiative supplements the government mission to offer quality healthcare facilities at an affordable cost through different initiatives. Similarly, its Telehealth helps the patients in distant places to consult with GNRC specialists as and when needed. The soft spoken gentleman asserts that a large volume of patients suffer because of preventable diseases and many can avoid hospitalizations if timely medical care is offered to them. Most of the patients arrive at hospitals after the diseases become complicated due to delayed care. A healthy population is essential for socio-economic growth, asserted Dr Borah, adding that the good health of each person emerges as a priority for peace, happiness and prosperity of a nation.

An ancient saying ‘Swasthya Param Sampad’ now emerges as a relevant learning for the entire human race in the post-corona era. Over eight billion human beings understood the real face of life and death during the horrible Covid-19 days as the powerful, intelligent and articulate community were locked inside and counted the number of casualties. Around the world, there are still one billion people who lack access to healthcare facilities.  It needs a multi-dimensional effort empowering different sections in the society and continuous advocacy along with societal collaboration to create a healthier population. The international organizations, local governments, healthcare initiators, etc here can make a real and deserving difference.