Eminent cardiac surgeon, Devi Prasad Shetty from Karnataka feels that India can become the first country in the world to prove that healthcare can be de-linked from affluence.
He is well known for his contribuitions in the field of cardiology in India. He performed the first neonatal heart surgery in the country on a 9-day-old baby named "Ronnie" in 1992. He was also Mother Teresa's personal physician. He has also been honored with Padma bhushan award, one of India's prestigious awards.
"Healthcare is not very important for our politicians as we are a young country. It is still not an issue which can get votes," said Shetty.
"For providing cheap and good quality healthcare to the people we do not need any additional funding from the government, but just good policies. We can show the world that good healthcare is not linked to affluence," he said.
Shetty said, "For the last some years we have been hounding the government with a special scheme for cheap healthcare which entails taking a nominal amount from every person who uses a mobile phone in the country and setting up a health insurance scheme".
"If the 900 million mobile phone users in the country pay Rs.20 per month, we can have a good health insurance scheme which can take care of any major surgery or illness a particular person might face," Shetty said.
In 2001, Shetty founded Narayana Hrudayalaya, a multi-speciality hospital in Bommasandra on the outskirts of Bangalore. He was called as the 'Henry Ford of heart Surgery' by New York-based The Wall Street Journal. He has performed over 15,000 heart surgeries.
Shetty cited that under the heath insurance scheme called 'Yeshaswini' by the Karnataka government nearly 90,000 farmers had undergone heart operations. The farmers pay only Rs.5 per month and get major health benefits.
"Today virtually every person in Karnataka has some kind of a health card and can be treated for most of the major ailments," he said.
"Indians as a whole are genetically predisposed towards heart disease. Our diet which comprises fried food makes us very vulnerable to heart disease. Almost 50 percent of people we operate upon for heart disease are diabetics. It is not in the Indian culture to exercise," he said.
"Rising affluence has given rise to many bad habits like smoking, which has increased massively, specially among women. Women have a natural shield against diseases till they are 45 years of age. After that nature drops them like a hot potato. So if a woman develops heart disease after this age, then it is worse than men," he added.