Russian kidney patients get an Indian healing touch

Dr Sudhanshu Tyagi. Source: B.Braun Avitum Russland

Dr Sudhanshu Tyagi. Source: B.Braun Avitum Russland

It took the vision and determination of Sudhanshu Tyagi, an alumnus of a Russian medical school, to open private clinics for those suffering from renal failure in the country.

Back in the 1990s, when there was a disruption of medical equipment supplies in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union and health authorities were hostile towards private medicine, an Indian nephrologist opened the first private dialysis clinics in the country. 

It all began in 1990 just after Dr Sudhanshu Tyagi completed his Ph.D in Nephrology from the First St Petersburg Medical Institute. The USSR was breaking away and all central supplies of medical equipment and disposables were disrupted. That was when he got an idea of starting a business of supplying dialysis equipment and disposables to the clinics.

Since Dr Tyagi studied in St Petersburg, he established the business in that city and initially focused on maintaining a continuous supply to the city’s clinics. At the same time, in a joint venture with the St Petersburg State Medical University, the enterprising Indian started a private clinic in a picturesque location on the outskirts of the northern capital. This was a holiday dialysis clinic for patients from all over the world travelling to St Petersburg and the first private clinic of its type in Russia.

In 1994 Dr Tyagi’s company started distributing dialysis equipment and disposables of a well know German company B Braun Melsungen AG. Being a nephrologist, he always wanted to start his own dialysis clinics but the situation in the late 90s didn’t allow for the opening of private dialysis clinics. The health authorities were averse to the private medicine not to mention the absence of legal mechanisms to run a private dialysis clinic in the country.

Things, however, gradually stared changing and the first private dialysis clinic became operational in Moscow in 1998. Dr Tyagi’s company started investing in dialysis clinics in different regions of the country. “The idea is creating a public private partnership wherein we invest and create state of the art dialysis facilities and provide the health authorities dialysis services on a turnkey basis,” the Indian nephrologist says. “The health authorities pay for the dialysis at a fixed negotiated price... The patients get the treatment free. We do not charge any fees to the patients.”

According to Dr Tyagi, this is a trend in dialysis field all over the world and Russia today treats approximately 30 percent of its dialysis patients in such clinics.

The Indian doctor’s company is actively creating dialysis clinics all over the country. “At present we operate 13 clinics where about 1000 patients get high class treatment. We are planning to have 25 clinics by the year end which will treat more than 3000 patients at full capacity,” Dr Tyagi says.

He adds that there are very positive trends in the health market in Russia and the dialysis facilities grow by 10 percent per year. In his opinion, there is still a very big potential in this field in Russia as well as other parts of the world. “Russian authorities are very cooperative in the regions which lack dialysis facilities and we really work in close partnership and support from local authorities,” he says. We build new clinics on the land allotted to us by the local governments. Of course, there are many bureaucratic hurdles, especially when it concerns erecting new buildings.”

Since 2008 Dr Tyagi is heading the operations of the German healthcare multinational B Braun Avitum AG in Russia, which has created public private partnership clinics with the Andhra Pradesh government and is treating over 2000 dialysis patients in the southern Indian state.

Education and training

When Dr Tyagi realised that there is a shortage of well trained medical staff - doctors, nurses and technicians in Russia in the field of dialysis, he started collaborating with the North West State Medical University in St Petersburg to train the doctors, nurses and technicians in the field of dialysis.

The new clinic building not only has dialysis facilities but also training and educational facilities where their own specialists as well as specialists from all over the country can undergo training programs in dialysis. The renowned nephrologist says he intends to expand this to new facilities in Novosibirsk in Siberia and Khabavorsk in the Russian Far East.

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