Quest for excellence


Quest for excellence

From a single clinic to the largest healthcare conglomerate in the GCC, Aster DM Healthcare has made giant strides over the years. Dr Azad Moopen's vision continues, almost three decades on


Suchitra Steven Samuel

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Published: Sun 16 Oct 2016, 5:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 16 Oct 2016, 7:29 PM

The professional expertise and facilities offered by Aster DM Healthcare is a cut above the rest. In the forefront of healthcare, the Group uses the latest technology to adapt to a rapidly changing world. These changes have been spearheaded by Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman, Aster DM Healthcare LLC, over the last 30 years.  Dr Moopen shares his thoughts in an exclusive interview with wknd. Excerpts:

Thoughts regarding professional journey.
It has been a very satisfying one. I always say that God has been kind to us; he destined that I was here at that point of time - amidst the right people at the right time. I always think that if I was in a different country, even in the GCC, the future of this organisation and I would have been entirely different. In the last 30 years, we've had the support of the visionary rulers of Dubai as well as the UAE. We've grown because of the support of like-minded people who had all come together to make this possible - the officials, our employees and factors such as geography.

About teaching.
Teaching is in my blood, and it will always be a passion to pursue. I started my career at a junior level as a teacher at the Calicut Medical College (my Alma Mater). Though it was just a short period of about five years, I was considered to be one of the good teachers.
Now that I have the resources, I wanted to build an organisation for medical education and the idea for DM Wayanad Institute of Medical Sciences (DM WIMS) came about to nurture future generations of doctors. One is not just building a structure and providing treatment to some people in the neighbourhood. Here you are moulding 150 doctors every year, who will be going to different parts of the world and providing healthcare, which means that whatever you teach them - be it culture, the way in which medicine is practised, etc., all this will have a tremendous impact wherever they go. My goal for DM WIMS is to make it among the best 10 private medical colleges in India by the year 2025.
As for the location, the panchayat (village council) decided to name the area as Naseera Nagar, as we built the infrastructure and provided jobs for 4,000-plus people.

Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare
Extent of Indian operations
In India, we have mainly four institutions - Aster Medcity, Aster MIMS Calicut, Aster MIMS Kottakkal and DM WIMS. We are now building hospitals in Kannur and Thiruvananthapuram. There is another block coming up in Kochi and Calicut. Overall, we have the largest presence in Kerala. Why Kerala? Because this is where we are from. Kerala has a fairly good infrastructure and very high standards in healthcare. When compared to any other part of India, Kerala has a much higher Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI), as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The PQLI is considered as a measure of overall health of a population in terms of parameters like life expectancy, infant mortality rate, and maternal mortality. In this respect, Kerala is close to countries like Canada. WHO considers this as the Kerala Model, something that says that the state has very high standards.
Kerala has trained manpower namely doctors, nurses and paramedical staff. We have 1,000-plus doctors, 3,500 nurses, and 1,000-plus technicians. We've started a hospital in Bengaluru and two hospitals in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. We are also in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. We are also looking at other places and there is a plan for growth in numerous areas.

Idea for Aster Medcity
In the last 25 to 30 years, we have built about 260 institutions ranging from small clinics and pharmacies to small and big hospitals. The idea behind Aster Medcity was to leave a legacy.
We acquired 42 acres of land, which is almost impossible in Kerala. The objective was to have a large campus built to serve people with facilities that are not currently available. We thought that this has to be a destination for healthcare, not only for Kochi, Kerala, or India, but also for the whole of Asia, and perhaps for the world as we go forward.
The idea came up when I started visiting institutions in the US. I visited Mayo Clinic, a big hospital complex, just four hours away from New York, at least six or seven times. People from all over the world go there in search of good healthcare. So Aster Medcity came into existence in Kerala, thanks to the manpower available along with favourable weather and connectivity.
We have completed Phase One of the project that has 670 beds. We will soon be adding another 500 beds. Beyond that, there are a lot of other things that we are planning in Aster Medcity. For example, there could be assisted living set up for people who want to come and stay there; or facilities for people who require hospitalisation at any point of time. A lot of NRIs have their parents back home who require medical support. They will feel very comfortable if they can take an apartment or a room and keep their parents there with immediate healthcare attention. Another example is that there could be rehab centres, for people who require small rehab to advanced ventilator rehab. As we go forward, there will be facilities available that will compete with established international facilities.

Future plan
I don't accept awards anymore. What is important to me is to give back to society and charity, which I promised when I was awarded the Padma Shri. I've been blessed with everything a person could dream or wish for. It's time for me to give back to society and my country. My dream for the future is not being actively involved in business, but in philanthropic and social activities utilising my knowledge as a doctor, businessman and administrator with the resources that I have.

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