Dr Prathap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, talks about his mission to provide healthcare for every individual in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times
Dr Prathap C. Reddy left a flourishing medical practice in Boston and returned to India in 1971, uprooting his young family at the same time. This was a son’s decision in response to his father’s request. Almost a decade later, in 1983, he set up his first hospital in Chennai, inaugurated by the then president of India, Giani Zail Singh. This was the start of what was to become India’s first integrated corporate hospital chain.
“It was in 1983 that I helplessly watched a young man lose his life to cardiac complications. If only we had the necessary technology and infrastructure at that time, we could have saved his precious life and ensured his recovery,” recollects Dr Reddy in an e-mail interview with Khaleej Times. “Human life is priceless, and it was after that tragic incident that I decided to start a hospital in India that would give people access to international standard healthcare at an affordable rate. We are committed to the achievement and maintenance of excellence in education, research and healthcare for the benefit of humanity,” he adds.
Elaborating on the services offered, the doctor says, “I think we can confidently say that we are a complete eco-system of healthcare delivery, providing almost all healthcare services. We have the distinction of having the busiest Solid Organ Transplant programme, which is testimony to our expertise in transplant procedures.”
Dr Reddy notes, “We’ve also performed some of the world’s first surgeries like the first-ever separation of Pygopagus twins (two bodies joined at the pelvis), highlighting our expertise in paediatric and critical care. Having successfully conducted over 500 robotic surgeries in the fiscal year 2014, we are also one of the leading players in robotic surgery. We have a research foundation with a focus on global clinical trials, epidemiological studies, stem cell and genetic research.”
What sets Apollo apart from others in the field? Dr Reddy replies, “Our focus on clinical excellence, a unique team of medical experts and state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology have helped deliver the best success rates, giving us an edge over others. I am glad that, over the years, we have grown as a brand synonymous with excellence, which is what we believe is our differentiating factor.”
According to Dr Reddy, it is unfortunate and quite unsettling to witness the rising number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related diseases across the world — especially in developing countries. “What’s more disturbing is the fact that youngsters who are the leaders of tomorrow are also prone to these disorders. While there is the expertise and technology to treat NCDs after its onset, there is still carelessness associated with general health and well-being, which can only be tackled by a social movement,” he stresses.
NCDs, which are generally slow progressing diseases, are expected to cost the global economy nearly $47 trillion by 2030, which is alarming. According to an analysis of global data, for every 10 per cent rise in chronic illnesses, the country loses 0.5 per cent of GDP growth, proving that an individual’s health not only impacts the person, but the nation as a whole.
“There has to be a social revolution that will encourage people to make a conscious decision to take care of themselves and undergo regular health checks that can help prevent diseases — and not treat them as a last resort,” he notes.
Speaking about the prevalence of heart disease and its correlation to modern lifestyle, the doctor stresses, “Whether it is the UAE, India or any other part of the world, sedentary lifestyles, lack of physical exercises, unhealthy diets and a callous attitude about one’s health are the main reasons for heart disease. The bitter-sweet truth is that while we have made tremendous progress in developing technologies and devices to make our lives easier, these advancements have made us physically sluggish and inactive. Private and public organisations must come together to increase awareness about healthy living and spread the message that human life is priceless.”
Dr Reddy also talks about why treatment in India is better and cost-
effective in comparison. “We believe it’s the 3C approach that attracts international patients — care, clinical excellence and affordable cost.
Patients are aware that hospitals like Apollo give paramount importance to quality of services and delivery offered, which are on par with our international counterparts. Additionally, JCI-International accreditations and re-accreditations becoming a regular factor is another boost to medical tourism in India. The government has also been encouraging on this front. They recently relaxed visa norms for SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) patients, which is a welcome move for medical tourism in India.”
Last year, the UAE’s Emirates airline too teamed up with Apollo Hospitals to connect international patients with quality healthcare services in India. Dr Reddy says, “As part of this tie-up, patients and their attendants from 19 countries across the Middle East and Africa can come to our hospital’s flagship locations in Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Bangalore to avail specially formulated fares for round-trip flights on Emirates. Under this partnership, travellers coming to Apollo Hospitals can avail special fares through the ticket booking section of the Emirates airline microsite using the passcode, which is mentioned within the site. (Customers can log-in to www.emirates.com/in/Apollo to avail the customised fares).