ADCERRA is a 25-year-old dental clinic that serves the Auroville community and several regions around it. Founded by a French dentist named Jacques, it is a public health center designed to promote basic dental health in order to reduce the need for serious dental procedures. It centers around the “0 Concept” which will be explained in more depth below. Jacques, his friend (and sometimes coworker) Jean-Claude, and his team of exceptional women warmly welcomed us.
The clinic aims to provide basic dental treatment for the general population using 10 sub-centers in areas around Auroville. It seeks to promote general health and well being, mostly to children in schools. The clinic aims to empower women, which they see as a key to a better functioning society (I agree). As such, all hygienists working in the sub-centers are women. He believes female hygienists help demystify dental care and make it less scary so young children won’t be as intimidated by dental practices. The idea is that the vast majority of dental procedures (up to 75%) can be taken care of with a basic level of training and at a reasonable cost and Jacques provides a 3-month hygienist training course after which these women are fully ready.
In India it is estimated that 250,000,000 children have no access to dental care. It is said that 2% of dentists are available for 72% of the population. As such dental hygiene is a huge public health issue and one that this clinic seeks to provide a treatment framework for, which can be exported on a national level.
Examining ADCERRA through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals I think we could argue that his clinic provides good health and well being (goal 3), gender equality (goal 4), and decent work and economic growth (goal 8). The atmosphere in the clinic was really wonderful and quite unique.
As mentioned earlier, the clinic operates on the “0 Concept,” based on an ancient Indian theory from Vedic times. “0” is both a number and a symbol representing both “nothing” and “all” and as it applies to health care, the “0” represents a perfect state of health and also the absence of care. It is with this theory that this clinic aims to promote basic dental health so that people don’t have to come to the dentist office except for more serious procedures.
Jacques’ methodology is certainly unique as it flies in the face of a typical business. His aim is not to make as much profit as possible. Naturally he needs to sustain the business so it can continue, but the traditional view of profit is upended here. As a management student who views traditional business practices with skepticism, it was wonderful to witness something so novel.