Sierra Leone: Management Admits Choithram Was Established for the Poor and Needy'

Harish Agnani ,a representative from the Choithram Foundation, has admitted that Choithram Memorial Hospital was established to serve the poor and needy in Sierra Leone.

Agnani provided a brief history of the hospital and noted that Choithram business started in Sierra Leone in 1944 by the late Thakurdas Choithram Pagarani.

He said before the founder died, he left a Will that they should establish a hospital in Freetown, which subsequently brought about the construction of Choithram Memorial Hospital, with the sole aim to serve the poor and needy.

There has been a huge controversy over the status of the hospital after the India Vice President tweeted and praised the charitable service provided by the facility over the years.

He had referred to the facility as a charitable one, a claim which has stoutly been challenged by a vast majority of Sierra Leoneans, who argued that the hospital is one of the most expensive in Sierra Leone.

Amidst the above controversy, the hospital management yesterday told journalists that they 'have been providing regular services at discount or free of cost to deserving and poor patients.'

The representative from the Choithram Foundation, Harish Agnani, yesterday reacted to the Indian Vice president's tweet during a presser at the Choithram Memorial Hospital conference hall in Freetown.

The tweet, which had gone viral on social media reads "I appreciate the commendable work being rendered by this charitable hospital in the field of health care & I providing free medical treatment facilities to the poor and needy."

In his reaction, Agnani further narrated that just after the war, the United Nations had approached them to rent the facility to them, but that they rejected as their aim was not to make money, but to serve the needy in Sierra Leone.

"If we would have really wanted to make money, we would have rented this place to the UN because they were here to help us, but we say no. If our intention was to make money we would have given them the place in return for thousands of dollars," he said.

He said when the UN left in 2007, Choithram took over the facility and since then they have been running it on charitable basis.

He claimed that there is no discrimination in the services they offer to patients that pay and those that do not, thus adding 'that they cannot give free services to all otherwise 'we cannot be able to control it'.

Contrary to the claim in some sections of the media, Agnani said the hospital has not been receiving any fund from the India government since its establishment.

"It has nothing to do with the Indian government. This hospital was built by Pa Choithram and is been funded by Choithram International Foundation. If there was funding coming from the Indian government as claimed in the media, then they would have absolutely have control over it," he said.

He noted that from time to time they have been conducting regular free camps screening like diabetes, hypertension, and breast cancer among others.

Meanwhile, among other beneficiaries, a journalist from Awoko newspaper, Austin Thomas and a 12-year-old boy who survived the August 2017 mudslide testified that they did receive free treatment from the facility.

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