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Ms. Aarti Ahuja, Psychologist and COO Burn Healing Foundation at Burn Healing Foundation

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : Burn Healing Foundation was founded in 2020 by Dr Rajeev B. Ahuja , an internationally renowned Plastic and Burn surgeon, and who is also the only Indian to have been the Past President of the International Society for Burn Injuries (ISBI) along with being the Past President of Association of Plastic Surgeons of India ( APSI ) and even National Academy of Burns India ( NABI ). Today is the Trustee of Association of Plastic Surgeons of India & the Founding Chairperson of Asia Pacific Burn Association ( APBA )as well . In this role as HOD of Lok Nayak Hospital ( MAMC ) Plastic Surgery & Burns department for close to 30 years he closely interacted and treated burn survivors.

India is the burn capital of the world. It is estimated that 1 million persons sustain burn injuries annually in India, of which 5 lakh are hospitalized and about 2 lakh succumb to burn injury. Almost half of the burn survivors have to live with functional deformities following healing. The cumulative figure for such deformities which are not corrected over the past 2 decades could be staggering. These could be post burn contractures of hands, arms and legs, or eyelid or lip ectropion. Some of these deformities could be very debilitating and not only affect the quality of life of the patient but also render him/her quite crippled. Children are not able to attend school, housewives are unable to look after their house and other adults cannot return to work. Government hospitals with burn management facilities are inundated with the load of acute burn patients as well as other trauma and cancer related patients that they are unable to devote sufficient time and resources to provide functional rehabilitation of all the burn survivors who may need the surgery. Then, there are patients who need multiple surgeries as many body parts may be deformed due to contractures.

With the above understanding of the incidence of burn injury in India and the plight of the burn survivors the Burn Healing Foundation was established as a non-profit organization. I as Dr Ahuja’s daughter and in my professional capacity as a Psychologist have been deeply impacted by the plight of burns individuals suffer through and the deceased quality of life they endure through lack of employment opportunities and social discrimination . My personal aim to be a part of the Burn Healing Foundation was to focus on healing aspects and community outreach. As a psychologist I was a part of revising the quality of Life Burn Scale for the Indian population along with Dr Amit Mulay who was completing his DNB in Plastic Surgery under the guidance of Dr Ahuja. This understanding and close quarters observation of all aspects of burn management and treatment makes me a burn advocate.

This was in a way to give back to the Society after having achieved so much fame through the specialty over decades by Dr Rajeev B Ahuja and as a family continuing to live up to our motto of service along with self.

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by the Burn Healing Foundation?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : Burn Healing Foundation provides reconstructive surgery , correcting physical deformities , in poor burn survivors and we attempt to also widen our scope of providing psycho-social rehabilitation through community support and helping them find employment through CSR campaigns in the future.

Great Companies: What makes the Burn Healing Foundation different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : In the Non Profit Organization space for burn survivors many are doing valuable work for their chosen cause, acid victims , women and children .Either they are providing support for immediate treatment or focusing on social rehabilitation , our cause of correcting deformities post burn surgeries and making them re-employable through psycho -social rehabilitation is one of its kind across the world.

As a growing organization , in my role as the COO and professional qualifications of being a Psychologist I attempt to provide a space that can be supportive of their healing surgery with the carefully chosen 20 hospital partners by Dr Ahuja, Pan India. Patient psychological care and through our social media endeavours we attempt to do burn advocacy in sharing information about prevention and correct first aid of burns. In burn care a popular slogan is Prevention , Persistence & Perseverance which we try to incorporate in our foundation's administrative work ethics.

Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : As mentioned, we are a growing organization. Our partner hospital and doctors are of great repute in their profession , but our struggle is community outreach to burn survivors and tentative donors to continue our intention of giving back to the society. I am deeply grateful to our partner hospitals in making it possible to provide reconstructive surgeries.Through our in-house social media efforts we have made a drop in the ocean , but I urge everyone to follow us on our social media pages ( Instagram Facebook Twitter Linkedin & Youtube @bhfindia ) and empathetically donate at an individual level or urge their companies to join hands with us under CSR campaigns to change the label of India being a burn capital of the world. With donations and funding we will be able to overcome our challenges and continue to help burn survivors and do our bit in mitigating the gap between treatment and those suffering. Also if this reaches medical professionals we are looking forward to joining hands with more hospitals wherein plastic and burn surgeons are working already to take it forward.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for the Burn Healing Foundation?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : As a COO , my personal vision for the next 5 years is to have hospital partners in every state and be supported by companies under CSR activities to carry out providing re constructive and deformity corrective surgeries to burn survivors that they become re employable and can lead a good quality of life as benefiting from the treatment. Also to add more hospital partners as 20 renowned Plastic & Burn Surgeons have associated their hospitals with us, more should be encouraged to follow in these philanthropic footsteps and join us under the guidance of Dr Ahuja to help in healing and restoring lives.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Ms. Aarti Ahuja : One can be passionate about a cause , wanting to make a difference, having a vision and mission just like a business, a business plan. In the NGO space , understanding the laws and the complaisance while having trust able team with expertise or knowledge in bureaucracy ( government dealings , registration & accounts maintenance ) , marketing , core area of the cause professionals representing the professional community ,CSR and community outreach experts to further the cause and help society along with a stage wise plan for implementing and raising funds. Everyone together with an empathetic and collective approach makes a difference as the end result is beyond the self it is benefiting people who are in need and can’t reach out themselves. Choose your team wisely , be ready to make changes and also keep reviewing your plans in early operational stages with adhering to set protocols and standards despite people luring you towards the easy way out!

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