Plastic surgery is being taken as a serious health issue, particularly in the developing world, where a third of all newborns are affected by skin cancer, according to an India-based NGO, which is calling on the government to increase plastic surgery coverage.
“We are hearing of more people being referred for plastic surgery,” said Nandan Bhagwati, CEO of Goals Plastic Surgery in New Delhi.
“I don’t want to be an advocate for plastic surgeons but I want to give voice to what we have heard for years, and to the people that we work with.”
Goals, which has a network of clinics in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, has been helping more than 3,000 plastic surgery patients in the last three years.
“People from poor rural communities in rural areas are being referred, we have seen that many plastic surgery procedures are being done on these people,” said Bhagwe.
The NGO has been working with a few states, including Delhi and Haryana, for years to provide plastic surgery coverages to patients and has registered nearly 20,000 surgeries in these states.
“If you go to the hospital, you will find plastic surgery covered in the hospital,” said Ajay Agrawal, Goals head of policy and advocacy.
“The patients are given all sorts of procedures and we are seeing a lot of improvement.
The plastic surgery covers are much cheaper than the surgeries in the clinics.”
The group has been urging the government for years now to implement a national policy of plastic surgery covering.
Plastic surgery coverings vary from state to state.
In some states, a patient can have their own plastic surgery provider to cover the procedure for free.
In others, a government-run plastic surgery center is required.
In Delhi, for instance, Goets Plastic Surgery is in charge of plastic surgeries covering about 10% of the population.
“In Delhi, we are covered by a government plastic surgery centre,” said Agrawyal.
Goals has a team of more than 10 doctors in Delhi and other parts of the country who are dedicated to helping plastic surgery sufferers.
Goets has partnered with a number of local government bodies, including the Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Municipal Corporation, National Health Mission and the Delhi Corporation of Civil Services.
Goats Plastic Surgery, which also provides plastic surgery services to students, recently started working with the government on a pilot project to provide coverages for about 100 plastic surgery surgeries in rural communities.
Agrawayal said the group is also working on a similar pilot project in Delhi’s Bhandup and Hoshiarpur districts, where plastic surgery providers are currently not covered by Goals.
“For a lot people, we just want to get them covered,” said Arvind Kumar, a plastic surgeon from Hoshiampur who has been referred for the procedure by Goets.
“This is an area where we are working to provide help to a large number of people,” he added.
Goers Plastic Surgery has been providing coverages in rural parts of Delhi for the last two years.
Its success has spurred other plastic surgeons to start providing coverations to their patients, and in the coming months, Goers is also planning to expand its services in other areas of the state.
“They have been helping in a big way,” said Kumar.
Goes is planning to set up a national plastic surgery network by the end of this year, and Bhagws plans to expand his group of plastic surgeons by at least a third.
“With plastic surgery increasing in the city and urban areas, we see a need to bring in coverages and the way people are dealing with it,” said a Goes plastic surgeon, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.
Goins plastic surgery service has seen a big boost in the past year.
“As of now, we only treat about a third [of plastic surgery cases] in the country, but with the expansion of plastic surgeon services in Delhi it is clear that this is a trend that will continue,” said Goes Plastic Surgery.
Goas Plastic Surgery recently started offering coverages covering plastic surgery in several states, and also in parts of Rajasthan.
“Goals has been seeing a steady increase in plastic surgery referrals in the state, particularly the rural areas,” said Pankaj Kumar, Goas president.
The organisation is also seeing an increase in referrals in parts that are not covered, like the north-east.
“There is a demand for plastic surgeries in cities,” said Ravi Kumar, executive director of Goats.
“It is not a trend, it is just an increase.
People are just beginning to realise that plastic surgery can be done anywhere.”
Goats is currently working with more than 500 plastic surgeons across India.
In the past five years, the Goats group has seen an average of 20 plastic surgery requests a day.
“Most of the people who come to us are looking for plastic services because they are worried