Tashkent Diary

At NephroPlus, we launched operations in Uzbekistan more than a year ago and within a short span, we had 3 centres operational - in Nukus, Urgench and Bogot. The largest centre, however, was being built in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. This was going to be the world's largest dialysis centre with 165 machines. All the centres in the country are under the Build-Operate-Transfer model with the Government of Uzbekistan paying NephroPlus for the services and the patients not paying anything. I firmly believe this is the future of dialysis around the world. Apart from the very rich, no one can afford this chronic treatment for so long.


After a three-hour flight from Delhi, I landed in Tashkent at about 3 AM and after a long wait for baggage, drove to the hotel. I could sleep only for a couple of hours before waking to head to the centre. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm to see the centre. I had seen videos and pictures in the past but seeing the actual building in all its glory was something else. Here is a video that shows the whole centre. The voice is in Uzbek but you will get a good idea about how well the centre has come up.

Here are a few pics of the centre and the inauguration:

The inauguration went off very well and the staff and I were excited to be seeing each other for the first time. The inauguration was graced by Vikram Vuppala, Founder and CEO of NephroPlus, officials from the Government of Uzbekistan and executives from International Finance Corporation and Asian Development Bank. both of which have been closely involved with this project.


I was there the whole week. I had ordered a NephroPlus technician uniform when we underwent a rebranding exercise a few months back. I had carried it along with me. Since the administrative office was on the third floor of the same building with the centre divided into 5 blocks on the first and second floors, I kept going to the centre and spent time with the clinical staff and our guests (patients). My uniform held me in good stead. I also spoke to all the clinical staff (in four batches of 25 each) and many guests (two batches of about 25 each) and introduced myself and answered their questions. Guests were very happy with the quality of dialysis they were getting. They felt much better compared to the previous centre.


Food in Uzbekistan is heavily focussed on bread and meat. Vegetarian options for folks like me are few. However, Narayanan, who heads Operations from NephroPlus in the country made sure I got a nice, vegetarian lunch every day of my trip. If it was somsa one day, it was dal soup another day. One day we had something like spring rolls and another day we had something like a cheese and veggie roll. The food is blander than what Indians are used to. But combine this with salad, bread and fruits and it all adds up to a very hearty lunch. Fruits were the highlight of the food, though. Uzbek culture places fruits very high up the order in any meal. While berries were my favourite, the melons, kiwis, grapes and peaches were also some of the best I have ever had.

The Uzbek people though have very unhealthy eating habits. It involves a lot of red meat and soda. Many people have a cola or a Fanta with every meal. Smoking rates are also very, very high.

People and the City

The Uzbeks are a lovely people. Extremely warm and affable, it is a pleasure to interact with them. They are also very law-abiding. During the whole week I was there, I saw probably one or two policemen - that too, at an accident site. Normally, you just don't see the cops. Apparently, the government has installed CCTV cameras and imposes heavy penalties on anyone breaking the law. This has worked really well.

The city does see extreme weather - hot summers and biting cold winters. It is a double landlocked country - not only is the country itself landlocked, the countries bordering it are also landlocked.


The best part about visiting a place where there is a NephroPlus centre is the convenience of getting good quality dialysis. I got three night sessions there. The best part about this was I didn't have to restrict my fluid and diet. I could eat and drink pretty much anything I wanted to. All three sessions went off without any problems.

It finished too soon!

On Saturday morning, I took the 8:45 AM flight back to Delhi. As the plane took off, I settled in listening to music and drafted an email thanking my team for the wonderful work they did building out the centre and for making a deep impact on the Uzbek healthcare system. A little later, I had a moment of weakness. Thankfully, there was no one in the seat next to me. So, for a couple of minutes, I just let go. I don't know what it was, really. Was it the love of my team? Was it the bond I developed with the guests? Was it the people of the country? Maybe a mix of everything? I have no clue. 

I would love to go back to Uzbekistan soon. Nothing can beat the feeling of being where it all happens - on the floor, among the team and the guests.

Rahmat, Uzbekistan!


Shreyas said…
Congratulations for the new centre.

Well documented,what I like about your articulation is the simplicity. No fancy english jargon.
Krishnan said…
Interesting and educative , as always.
Sukesh Gain said…
Awesome to read the diary, Kamal. Greatly depicted with vivid details.