I never lost sight of the dream and hope to achieve it, Pratap C Reddy tells Sumit Bhattacharjee
“All successful people, men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.” – Brian Tracy
The Founder-Chairman of the Apollo Hospitals Group Pratap C Reddy falls in this category who dared to brave the roughest of roads to realise their dreams. There is an old saying, “When the going gets tough the tough get going”. The saying epitomises his journey of life. During the inauguration of the group’s latest 150-crore venture in Visakhapatnam by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the medic turned entrepreneur squeezed a few moments to narrate his amazing story from a humble village boy to the architect of corporate healthcare to The Hindu Metro Plus.
He says that at the behest of his father, he discontinued a flourishing practice in the US to serve the country. “I began during the regime of the ‘Licence Raj’ in India. For a small approval, then there were hundreds of obstacles. The import licence fees were high and for just one approval, I had to make 20 trips to the then Finance Minister’s office,” says he.
A tragic incident in 1979 changed his life forever, when he helplessly watched a 32-year-old patient succumb to coronary heart disease for lack of updated heart care facilities in the country.
“That was the day when I decided to do something to stem the recurrence of such incidents. I dreamt of a quality healthcare at an affordable cost and that’s how the first Apollo Hospital had come up in Chennai,” says he.
He says that three ideals made him successful in the journey on the road that was less travelled. “I believed in three ‘Ps’: Purity, patience and persistence. I never lost sight of the dream and hope to achieve it. The human body is today worth 1.4 trillion USD, irrespective of the race, status and nationality. And everybody, especially the helpless needs to be taken care of.”
Dr. Pratap Reddy was fairly straight in saying that the healthcare in the country is still far from being called a developed sector. “The need of the hour is privatisation. The government has no business in running the show. They can at best act as facilitators and work on giving guidelines. When it comes to the number count and quality, we are way behind. The focus should be on building more quality hospitals and state-of-the-art medical colleges. No sector is as big as the healthcare sector. The present employment of 3.9 million in the sector could rise to 30 million in the next 12 years if things are worked out in the right way. And the figure I quote is of direct employment. If we consider the employment potential taking the indirect opportunities like nursing, diagnostic labs, pharmacy and other associates, then the figure could be three times higher,” says he.
Talking of his latest initiatives, he says, “Earlier, my goal was to reach a million lives. Now it is to reach a billion lives. And for that reason we have launched the Apollo Reach concept. The idea is to reach the interior and neglected parts of the country. We intend to set-up super-speciality healthcare institutions in smaller towns to serve the rural folks. Our goal is to start 250 such centres in the next seven years, but primarily the focus is on setting up 25 such units in the coming two years.”
The first Apollo Reach centre was inaugurated at Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh by the Prime Minister sometime ago.
The healthcare architect was of the opinion that young doctors should dream of recreating a new India that would provide world-class medical aid to the common man.
Recognising his eminence and pioneering contribution in transforming the Indian healthcare industry, the Government of India awarded him the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was also presented with the Sir Neel Ratan Sarkar Award for medical excellence in 1998.