Can you think of state of the art dental clinics in remote villages in Andhra Pradesh providing treatment to hundreds at a fraction of what it costs in urban areas? There are 41 such clinics across Andhra Pradesh which have now grown into a viable social business, thanks to an initiative of Vishnu Dental College functioning under the Sri Vishnu Educational Society (SVES) Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh.

“When we began the initiative way back in 2012 with first clinics in Kumudavalli and Antarvedipalem, the aim was to bring the importance of dental care as a key component of overall health and also to inspire, engage and involve our own Vishnu Dental College students,’‘ K V Vishnu Raju, Chairman, SVES told businessline.

Ensuring quality of doctors has been easier as they are from Vishnu Dental College which has highest NIRF rating in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, he said. 

For Vishnu Raju, who is also Chairman of Anjani Vishnu Holdings which has interests in ceramics, printing and food businesses and was former promoter of Anjani Portland Cements, philanthropic zeal runs in the family as his Late grandfather B V Raju was the recipient of Padma Bhushan for his services. 

``When we want to do something in healthcare, the philanthropic - cum social business model of Madurai - based Aravind Eye Care became an inspiration for us. I visited their establishment in Madurai before conceptualisation and execution of our low-cost Vishnu Dental clinics,’‘ he said.  

 ``We needed to work hard to convince people about the importance of preventive dental care. Generally they come only when pain hits,’‘ says Divya, a doctor at Vishnu Dental clinic at  Antarvedipalem.

 ``But now, every day 10 to 15 patients are coming everyday for treatments such as root-canal,’‘ she adds Divya who has been working there for the last six years.

The clinics have state of the art equipment including Tele Dentistry facility to get in touch with the senior professors and doctors at the Vishnu Dental College if any advice is needed. 

The villagers are apparently happy. ``Me and my family along with other villagers are beneficiaries of this clinic. Many of our villagers are working in the Gulf and they too are coming here for treatment,’‘ V Shyam, a patient and native of Antarvedipalem said. 

The cost of treatment has been kept low for various procedures including a root-canal which costs ₹1,200. The key players the dental chain are apparently the young doctors. They are being offered a salary in the range of about ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 while some of the senior doctors like Divya are able to earn ₹50,000 per month.  

The chain is professionally run. Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and an exclusive HR management system which takes into consideration the interest and motivation of doctors to serve in the remote villages before hiring have been put in place, according to P Aruna Jyothi, Co-ordinator of the clinics. 

The clinics have now almost become financially viable and are being set up with an initial investment of about ₹15 lakh. In some villages, landlords are also chipping in to provide buildings at either free of cost or at lower rentals. 

``​As the model has proved to be sustainable and viable,, we are working on expanding this model of low cost dental chain to other states including Telangana and Karnataka,’‘ Vishnu Raju said.