UAE-based VPS Healthcare dedicates India’s largest family health centre to Kerala government

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The reconstructed family health centre is a model for Kerala and the nation to emulate to strengthening the public health system, says ministers and members of parliament

Dubai: A UAE-based healthcare group has given a new lease of life to a government primary health center destroyed in the floods of 2018. The ruined facility has now undergone a makeover following reconstruction, acquiring a modern face and possessing infrastructure matching a contemporary hospital. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the reconstructed medical facility in Malappuram, a northern district of Kerala, on Saturday.

Reconstructed by Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, as part of its CSR initiative, the primary health center, now upgraded to a family health center, is poised to be the largest such facility in India. The reconstruction initiative was part of Dr. Shamsheer’s promise to rebuild flood-hit Kerala’s vital infrastructure. 

Underscoring the significance of primary and family health centers in Kerala, the chief minister said, it is the vision of his government to strengthen the public health centres. “Developing and upgrading primary and family health centers are our priority. The LDF government is steadfastly committed to the vision. We have been continuously working towards this since 2016 under the Aardram scheme. In our second tenure, we have prioritized the strengthening of public health institutions as part of the 100-days action plan. Projects such as Vazhakkad is a booster for our efforts,” said Vijayan.

Breaking with tradition, it is the first of its kind facility in the country. Rather than catering to the medical needs of the rural population, it aims to serve a larger purpose of enhancing the health and wellness of the community. Distinct from a traditional government health center, it has an open gymnasium, play area for children, and other amenities to promote a healthy lifestyle. The family health in 15,000 square feet was reconstructed for Rs. 10 crores. 

The health center has an advanced laboratory and modern imaging department. It has ten observation beds with oxygen concentrators and a stabilization unit to attend to patients suffering from low oxygen saturation.

Health Minister Veena George said: “It is a proud moment for all of us. We have uplifted a primary health center destroyed in the floods to the best and the biggest such facility in the nation. We extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Shamsheer and his team for their noble efforts. It is sure that the state-of-the-art facility, equipped with advanced technology, will cater to the needs of the people of Vazhakkad. The health centre at Vazhakkad is the most advanced such facility in India and the health department will initiate all measures to sustain the standard and quality of services.”

She also urged the people to be cautious against COVID-19 and to engage in combating the pandemic.

Speaking at the inaugural function, VPS Healthcare Chairman and Managing Director Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil said: “We are profoundly delighted and proud to dedicate the family health center to the people of Vazhakkad. It has been a heartwarming experience. When we had embarked on this mission to reconstruct a destroyed family health center, we wanted to showcase a model for the future. Healthcare across the globe has been undergoing tremendous changes, especially since the outbreak of the pandemic. So we must adapt to the changes happening on the global stage and keep upgrading ourselves.

“At Vazhakkad, we have built a health and wellness centre. We hope the people of Vazhakkad will benefit from this. The government and the people have been very supportive and cooperative from the beginning. We are thankful to all. It has been a collective effort, and this will not have been a success without the backing of the local population. We dedicate the family health centre to all with great pride.”

He hailed the efforts of the Kerala government in strengthening the healthcare system and commended the advancement and achievements that the state had made in the recent past. Opining that the strengthening of primary and family health centres is key in the process, Dr. Shamsheer added that VPS Healthcare will employ five staff for the next two years at the Vazhakkad centre to maintain the quality of services. The healthcare group will provide them with salary and other benefits for their service.   

Realizing a shared dream

Nestled in rural Malappuram, the ordinary people of the village had depended on the primary health center at Vazhakkad for their immediate medical needs.

“Vazhakkad is home to ordinary people who had relied on the primary health center for most of their routine medical check-ups and needs. The facility used to attend to around 75,000 people annually. The upgraded facility is expected to see around 200,000 patients a year. This figure underscores the significance of the Family Health Centre in the lives of the people here. It is also a testament to the quality of the services delivered at the facility,” said Dr. K. Sakeena, District Medical Officer.

Kerala Excise and LSG Minister M V Govindan Master said the Vazhakkad project is a model for the state to emulate. “When we are fighting a pandemic, it is imperative that we strengthen the public health system. In this scenario, Kerala wants more projects like this. We appreciate Dr. Shamsheer and VPS Healthcare for the noble initiative.”

Lulu Group Chairman MA Yusuff Ali, the chief guest of the function, said it is heartening to see that the Vazhakkad family health center has now been upgraded to a modern health infrastructure with the capacity to address the growing needs of the public. He also appreciated Dr. Shamsheer for his continuous philanthropic efforts.

VPS-Rebuild Kerala Mission

Ravaged by the devastating floods of 2018, Kerala suffered a whopping loss of over Rs. 30,000 crores. A global campaign to support the rebuilding of Kerala gained momentum. Dr. Shamsheer had then pledged to aid Kerala’s relief work through financial assistance. 

In the initial phase, VPS Healthcare had sent a relief flight to Kerala with medical supplies, water purifiers, hygiene products, water, clothes, and nonperishable food. 

In the second phase, VPS Healthcare expressed its intent to reconstruct vital infrastructure destroyed in the disastrous floods. It signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government to rebuild the broken-down family health center at Vazhakkad.