Dr. Sumedha Kushwaha: A Community Based Anti-Tobacco Program

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Name: Dr. Sumedha Kushwaha

Business: ATTAC – Aim to Terminate Tobacco and Cancer 

Location: Noida, India

Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness 

Reason for starting? As a dental student, I always aspired to make money. However, during the third year of my graduate program at a community-based camp, I observed a small child succumb to oral cancer. On probing him, I understood that he had no idea about the harmful effects of tobacco and was addicted to smoking. During that year, my daily OPD had numerous patients with similar problems. I was angry, and the activist in me came out. I wrote to ministers and health department officials about it, however I understood the government wasn’t helping. Since tobacco is very addictive people have a hard time quitting. Hence, I started ATTAC to provide health checkups, cancer screenings and tobacco cessation advice, all at people’s door step. Patients who are positive are guided for further treatment.

Related: Read about another entrepreneur working in the Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness industry here.

How do you define success? Success for me is a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved in the process of doing good. I also feel after setting a goal, the achievement of goal posts is success in the journey.

Biggest success: The journey is a success for me. The way I have done my bit to help people with a good heart, the way we have worked hard without a sigh, the way we have raised more than 100 volunteers through personal connections and genuine bonds of friendship, the way we have sown seeds of social good in youth, the patients and families whose lives we have touched for good, the partners we have associated with who keep the spirit of collaboration above competition, and the lives we saved in this time. For the past three years, I have grown as a person. I have matured my thinking towards various social issues that affect human life.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Sales and Marketing: Since there are monetary constraints and lack of skills for marketing, I feel lagged out in this sphere. Strategy: When I look back at these three years, I feel a lot of work could be done differently. Since most of my attention was towards groundwork, I never really planned. Now, I think to expect a successful outcome, it’s important to plan well. Scaling up: I’ve never been a great admirer of technology as a solution for health problems that face the world. However, after opening three tobacco cessation centres, I feel scaling this number up to meet the demand of the market has been a challenge for me. I am trying to use technology as an enabler rather than a solution to achieve the same. Cost management has been one aspect I have always struggled with.

For me, marriage has been quite a game changer. Earlier, the only thing that dominated my thinking and my actions was work. I was a workaholic in the purest sense. After getting married to the most understanding man on the planet, whom I dated for four long years and love the most — life was still in a mess. Old habits and patterns had to be changed. I had to find the perfect work-life balance. I handled this by joining a fellowship at the school for social entrepreneurs, India, where I learnt about balancing life and work, teamwork and importance of delegating responsibilities, better time management, good and quick decision making. Also, I read a lot during these six months about how to manage multiple roles and multitasking. Since, my husband is also a doctor and has been there by my side since the inception of this organization, I have started to seek his help in tasks where I lack the skills.

Related: Scaling Up: When Equity Matters

Who is your most important role model? My role model would be my parents, for being so supportive and displaying virtues of hard work, honesty, respecting relationships etc. Externally I admire Mr. Barack Obama; while reading about him, I was very much inspired. Also, as the most powerful man once, he still showed a perfect work-life balance and exemplary display of soft skills. I think where we come from, our humble backgrounds and the values we imbibe through experience during our journey matter the most.

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Edited by The Story Exchange

Posted: November 27, 2017

Victoria Flexner Dr. Sumedha Kushwaha: A Community Based Anti-Tobacco Program