Youth is the most important and dynamic segment of the population in any country. Youth is the backbone of a society and hence they determine the future of any country. It is believed that developing countries with a large youth population could see tremendous growth. Youth are the real assets of any country. WHO defines youth as the 15-24 year age group.
Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 years, accounting for 16 percent of the global population. India has the largest youth population. Almost 35 percent of India's population comprises youth. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu. Punjab, Andhra Pradesh has the highest numbers of youth in our country. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) endorsed the recommendation that August 12 be declared as International Youth Day. Since then it is celebrated to raise awareness about the cultural and legal issues faced by youth throughout the world. The theme of International Youth Day 2021, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.
Dr. Mukesh Panwar is an Oral Health Professional with wide experience in public health and Developmental Sector Projects. He is Pioneer Batch fellow of the school for social entrepreneur India, Supported by the British Council and PWC as a strategic partner. He has successfully completed Unleash Denmark innovation lab 2017. He got selected as 1000 young global talents to innovate and collaborate on solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. He also participated in Jagriti yatra 2015 as a facilitator, and 2016 as a guest participant. He is also president of the scout.
He is responsible for defining business strategies, building strategic alliances and partnerships, and general management of the Project
He developed an integrated oral health project (Smile Express) a mobile dental van service model for school children and the rural population. He also leads a mobile dental van project in collaboration with the government of Rajasthan.
Healthcare Journey of Smile express
Dr. Mukesh Panwar says, “The three traits required for any type of company or a person to grow and to develop any sector are to innovate, influence and inform. I'm going back to my college days, these were the rosy days when I was studying. So in pursuit of dentistry, I realize that most of the dental clinics are setups in urban areas, there are no effective dental health centers, particularly for rural areas. So, if anyone likes to visit any Dental Center nearby, he or she has to visit at least a nearby city area and I think most people know that dental visits usually require two to three seats for dental treatment and it is not cured by only medicine. It also required some mechanical intervention. So if you are any person is having the pain and the person may require it or root canal treatment. So root canal treatment usually requires 2-3 settings but for movement to move from the rural area to the City area it also increases their out-of-pocket expenses. But the problem itself is very big. It's not about transportation and pocket expenses.
People are not aware not what is happening in their mouth, if we compare the things are going in event defense like urban and rural disparities, so long even the government is trying hard to reach all facility to make available with the help up Digital India and there are many marketing things are also going from government side even common trying hard with the help of digital technology with more healthcare innovation but the problem itself is very big. So, pursuing dentistry, I realize that this is a big problem, and how we can solve it. Partly if you don't know what is happening in your mouth, it is a more crucial part. And at the end of the day, when there is so much pain and so much suffering then you have to visit the patient or your general practitioner, if you are having the fourth stage of cancer itself is a very big problem for a family and for society.
There are many organizations and the people are also trying, like the Dental Health Association, how we can do something like that. So we're going to all these mismatches and gaps. I think that there is something we can do and we can fill that gap by being a dentist to what is our duty so that as a standalone doctor or as a dentist, I can't do much. I thought that being a dentist I have very limited capacity, I can treat one person, 10 patients, 15 patients, how can I reach more and more people? What can be the solution? So that time we realize that mobile intervention can be a solution, it can be the best solution to reach more and more people and we can develop an integrated model with different types of community-based organizations in collaboration with the health department, education department, rural department. So an idea was born around 2015. And while at that time I was on a journey. By doing that particular journey I got the opportunity to interact with the people of SSC India, the school for social entrepreneurs.
At that time, I pitched them the idea that I want to do something like a mobile dental van, and the name itself is Smile Express. I already coined the name because if you people heard about the lifeline Express, Lifeline Express is basically a train system so it can go to the different areas but I thought that the train can't go to the most interior and remote and mountain and tribal areas. So I thought the bus could be a good vehicle. So that time we started it and the rest we got selected. Luckily I got selected for school for social entrepreneurship. I got a nine-month opportunity. The exact nine-month opportunity is a live program and we also got mentorship and that bit of classes, we got the opportunity to interact with market leaders also. So that was a superb experience. And that time in nine-month I can see the guest isn't the time for a baby usually taking nine months to get produce. So that might be my startup or I can see the smile extra is born out of that particular nine-month. So, it is from idea to implementation.
I got the opportunity to interview many leaders they give me good coaching mentorship and we started our first pilot in Jaipur that is when we started with government schools and it was quite successful We continue and I also participated in more organizations because being an entrepreneur you have many challenges first of all your personal life, your professional life, and if you combine both and your social life. Being a dentist people are saying that you can start a clinic and you can run it in a very well manner, while you are thinking about mobile dental when it is much more expensive, and how it will give you long-term things with you. But entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship themselves are also very different. Entrepreneurship plays in Excel and we have to play an impact, but it is a social enterprise and if you want to solve any problem, then you have to build a circular economy around it.
So we thought in that way and luckily, I got selected for the Denmark innovation lab, and that time I had the opportunity to interact with many people around the globe. And then they gave me ideas on how we can make it tech-enabled and how the fundings can be used to different types of sources and different revenue streams can be developed. and we also got corporate unlimited India, they gave me much more mentorship in advance just like in a growth space. So these are the things that are happening behind the curtain. The journey is not itself very you know that rosy. We have to reach more and more. We live luckily well and I can say with the help of God's grace and our team's confidence. We are the first dental organization. So we got selected for six social startups out of many startups. The first time they introduce the things like socialist startups do is those who are solving different problems. So, Smile Express got selected for them and we got this opportunity and we got a grant so we can expand our projects. We also got documentary stories from the Times of India. We got coverage from different types of organizations.
So right now, this Smile Express is the first of its kind company in India, which is providing mobile and portable dental clinic facilities to rural and semi-urban areas. At the same time, we are approaching this year from mid-2020 and 21. We are also starting the same services in urban areas, and probably many people know the mucormycosis in the black fungus is the most crucial like the disease that happens after the COVID problems. So though, those people who are not able to maintain their mental health and those people who are taking the irrational use of steroids. So those who are not having the input will help the facility so that people are more prone to that type of infection. So we have also modulated our awareness campaign that if you are to get rid of that particular black fungus, then at least you have to maintain your dental health in a proper manner. So we are going and growing, particularly in that direction so that we can be the best and reliable mobile dental van service provider particularly in rural and semi-urban India, so more and more people can get benefitted. We are doing our very little bit but at least we can reach more and more people.”
Challenges faced by Smile Express
Dr. Mukesh says, “ Specifically, if I talk about dental health because it is the most neglected topic, particularly in the healthcare industry. Many times, like if in a country like India, there are mobile medical units, there are many organizations running to reach more and more people in remote locations. But when I suggested this idea to many people, that angel investor and venture capitalist that does something with mobile dental vans would be a sustainable model to reach more and more people. The people told me that dental health is still in awareness and nascent stage. But I realized that there are not we can think in that way something we can think in a very different way. Because the dentist is the first person who can think about oral cancer because India is considered the oral cancer capital. There are many tobacco users in India. Even there are many systemic diseases through which dentists can identify them. We are not only part of dental health but also systemic health
Awareness of Dental Health
Let's suppose like in a camp, we are having 200 plus people but out of 10 people at this 10% people so be done for your clinics for get further statements, or whatever we advise, because it's the mobile and portable dentistry also has its own limitation, but people can reach to the nearby center through which they can get the treatment. So these are the few challenges but with the help of some good incubation and accelerator programs, we are trying to make some viable model that people can reach to our center.”
Advice to the dynamic youth of India
Dr. Mukesh says, “My advice will be very simple and reliable because whatever I learned from my struggle, and my experience is very simple that startup can be a roadie, but you have to delve deep into your particularly for understanding the problem first itself, how deep is your problem and how much it is relevant to you and develop a solution which is relevant to the Indian population, your approach must be local and you can think in a global manner, but your implementation must be in a local. So, you have to approach in a local manner and whatever you have to do involves yourself fully committed to your mission or whatever you people are doing or whatever problem you are solving.
And one more piece of advice I want to give is that there are huge opportunities in every sector. Like particularly in the dental sector, there are huge opportunities, maybe from dental diagnostic to instrumentation.
Rapid Fire with expert
Dr. Mukesh Panwar says-Success means achievement and satisfaction. Life is all about the river and it should be like a flow Entrepreneurship is a field and adventure The team is your strength India is my country Healthcare is most crucial in the development sector. “
(Edited by Dr. Rati Parwani)