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Reflecting on a year that was all about healthJanuary 4, 2022

Prema Sagar

Chairperson, BCW India Group at Genesis BCW and Six Degrees BCW

What a year it has been! If I look back, 2021 has been equally tumultuous as 2020! It had its turbulence, but it also had its moments that I will cherish. And for both, I am immensely grateful.

If there was one word, to sum up, my focus for this year, it would be: Health—on the personal and professional front. On the personal front, it was about my husband Jyoti and my health. It was also the health of the kids we support at Genesis Foundation. And on the professional front, it was the immense and impactful work that our healthcare team at the BCW India Group has been doing.

Breaching a personal frontier

My husband Jyoti has had type 2 diabetes for several years. Medication and avoiding direct sugars have been a part of his life. Last year, we heard about this organisation: Freedom from Diabetes. On January 1 this year, Jyoti embarked on their programme. It was not just about discipline, but about looking at what we were eating in a whole new light. I am delighted to report that for over 10 months now, Jyoti has been off medication and his blood sugar level is perfect. Not just that, he got the entire family, including our domestic support staff, on the same diet and we are all feeling lighter, healthier, and more energetic. What I have learnt from the experience is that when someone tells us we have a chronic health issue, we just give up and give in to easy management. We don’t even try to fight and overcome it. And while there are some issues that are no doubt dependent on medication, we must at least explore ways to fight them.

A 20-year mission

Recently, we marked our son Sameer’s 38th birthday. Sameer was born to us on December 20, 1983, but tragically, he only survived 16 hours. It was a debilitating loss for Jyoti and me—we were completely lost in our grief. Someone suggested that we go to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charityhome. We started volunteering there and that gave us a way to channelize our grief to help others. We gave that new direction a formal structure in 2001 and created Genesis Foundation (GF). This year, GF turned 20. What started with just the two of us, grew into a huge community of hospitals, volunteers, doctors, donors and, of course, beneficiaries. With their selfless contribution, we have been able to support the treatment of over 3300 children.

A tough year for CHD kids

The kids that GF supports and their parents are already faced with a raw deal in life. The pandemic, however, dealt an even bigger blow to them. With most beneficiaries coming from underprivileged backgrounds, their access to healthcare suffered even more than before. The kids themselves were more vulnerable, given that Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is comorbidity. Also, early screening is one of the best ways of getting treatment to the kids on time, but we had to halt our screening camps as well. Just as things were getting better in the beginning of the year, the second wave came and everything had to halt again. For these kids, that is loss of critical treatment. But our team has been relentless in its efforts to get things back on track. I fervently hope there are no more barriers to treatment to these precious little hearts.

Supporting critical medical developments

On the work front, we started the year with GCI Health expanding into India through genesis BCWto formGCI Health India. Our healthcare practice has been doing excellent work and this year, it has outdone itself, not just in terms of performance but also in terms of the kind of work that it has done. We played a small but critical role in India’s vaccination drive, helped our pharma clients develop vital initiatives, helped launch important medication, vaccinations, and equipment, and also supported social development programmes. It has been a packed year and I am extremely proud of the team and gratified that our clients trusted us with these pivotal projects.

As we end the year, I want to leave you all with words from my guiding light, Mother Teresa: “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”

In 2022, let us do great things together!