We came across several patients from Turkmenistan who used the services of Hindi Lukman. We conducted an interview with Mr. Asim Afsar, Founder of Hindi Lukman, based in Delhi, India to find out about his work.
Saglyk: Can you tell us briefly about your work? When did Hindi Lukman start?
Hindi Lukman: We are a two and half year-old Health Care Facilitator Company. Our goal is to provide information, guidance, and full support to citizens of Turkmenistan looking for medical treatment in India. Till now, we have helped more than 100 Turkmen families to get good quality medical treatment including some major surgeries like, liver and kidney transplantation. Hindi Lukman serves as an educator, organizer, facilitator, and as an advocate on behalf of a patient. We provide a full logistical support including language services and translation from the Turkmen and Russian languages into English. Detailed information about our services can be found at our website.
Saglyk: Why do Turkmen patients choose India? What are the specific factors that influence their decision to come to India for medical treatment?
Hindi Lukman: Over the years, India has grown to become a top-notch destination for medical value travel because it scores high over a range of factors that determine the overall quality of care. Imagine a complex surgical procedure being done in a world class global hospital by acclaimed medical specialists at a fifth to tenth of what it normally takes! That’s India. From quality of therapy, range of procedural and treatment options, infrastructure and skilled manpower to perform any medical procedure with zero waiting time.
Saglyk: What kind of services do you provide to patients from Turkmenistan? What conditions do they mainly suffer from?
Hindi Lukman: We take a holistic approach to care. As a team we help a patient and his/her relatives to make an informed decision by providing information and acting as an advocate on behalf of the patient. Most of the patients and their relatives feel vulnerable due to lack of information and resources. We assist them in finding an affordable, quality care, understanding the procedures and communicating patient’s needs to a provider. Our Turkmen patients mostly suffer from liver & cancer related ailments.
Hepatitis is seen rampant. It is sad to see many Patients whose Hepatitis is not properly treated and has gone to the next stage of Cirrhosis.
Leukemia is another growing problem in Turkmenistan. Blood cancer is the most treatable of all the cancers and we indeed can help people live longer and with better quality of life.
Saglyk: How is your service different from your competitors’ business?
Hindi Lukman: Our services are not limited to hospital working hours. We work closely with patient and his/her family and consistently review the options. Our services catered to the diverse needs of our patients. We are in the middle of putting in place "patient follow-up" procedures. Our team plans to visit our patients at home once in six month to ensure their wellbeing. At the end of this year we plan to start a help desk for Turkman patients to get funding for their treatment.
Saglyk: What kind of support Turkmen patients are looking for?
Hindi Lukman: Unfortunately, many Turkmens visit India without a plan. They either connect with agents at Delhi Airport and/or just take advice from their travel agents. The right way is to make all the planning in advance: treatment, doctor, finances, and hotel. The more prepared you are the less surprises. We help patients with a detailed itinerary before they arrive.
Financial assistance is indeed needed for Turkmen citizens visiting India with serious conditions like organ transplant and cancer. We need to put in place a system to help them. Indian NGO´s only help Indians, but there are many international organizations which assist foreign nationals. We just need to put in place a system to conduct all paper work for financial assistance.
Saglyk: Ideally, how would you like to work with the Government of Turkmenistan? What kind of cooperation will be constructive? How can you work together to benefit citizens of Turkmenistan?
Hindi Lukman: It would be mutually beneficial if we can get certain assistance from the Government in rolling out some useful public health programs on immediate and long term basis. First and foremost goal is to spread awareness about the affordable and quality medical treatment to Turkmen patients. We wish to open a Hindi Lukman office in Ashgabat to spread awareness, especially about cancer and liver related issues. We also wish to use this office for e-lectures and consultation for critically ill patients and their Turkmen doctors.
People living in Turkmenabad, Mary, Balkanabat are even more disconnected when it comes to healthcare awareness. We need to reach out to them.
I can identify goals and needs for immediate and long term cooperation with the Government of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Health.
→ We need to identify ailments which could be best treated in India and establish an effective patient exchange program.
→ Turkmen hospitals should give an option of getting a complete Treatment Summary in English, so that Turkmen patients can easily seek help online from international hospitals.
→ Government of Turkmenistan should consider offering health insurance to citizens of Turkmenistan which provide coverage of international hospitals.
→ We can help with designing and running effective public Health Awareness Campaigns. We need to educate Turkmens on liver-friendly habits and foods. I am amazed to see the epidemic like proportion of Hepatitis Patients.
⇒ We can organize joint medical programs for Turkman medical students in India. We could conduct joint lectures and surgery workshops.
It was nice to see our country’s leaders joining hands in promoting yoga. We need more such initiatives in healthcare.
Saglyk: Thank you for talking to us.
Hindi Lukman: Thank you!
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