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UAE-based Indian entrepreneur helps rebuild health centre in Kerala

The government primary health centre in Kerala’s Vazhakkad, which was destroyed in the 2018 floods, was rebuilt last month with funding support from Dr Shamsheer Vayalil — an NRI entrepreneur who hails from the South Indian state.
Vayalil is the founder, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, a leading healthcare service provider in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations as well as India.
Speaking on the community participation in the project, he said, “We wanted all members of the community to be a part of the initiative. Experts from different fields, along with the local population, came together to make this endeavour a success.”
The chairman added, “The participation and involvement of people from various walks of life, including the best brains of IIT-Madras and Government Engineering College, Thrissur, has added value to the project and the result is visible. The credit for the success of the project also belongs to the people who have selflessly associated with us.”
The 15,000 sq. ft. family health centre — reconstructed at a cost of Rs 10 crore — is the first of its kind in the country to promote the concept of total health and wellness. The building is eco-friendly and energy-efficient, has an open gym and a play area for children, and is disabled-friendly.
“While businesses must build critical mass and grow revenues, they should also play an integral role in facilitating transformative changes in society. I believe that when you give, you grow, and this philosophy is integral to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of VPS Healthcare. We take immense pride in our community-centric initiatives that improve the lives of people,” Vayalil told TIMESOFINDIA.com.
“Vazhakkad is home to ordinary people who had relied on the primary health centre for most of their routine medical check-ups and needs,” said Dr K Sakeena, a district medical officer. The facility used to attend to around 75,000 people annually. Now renamed as Family Health Centre, it is expected to see around 200,000 patients a year.
VPS Healthcare is an integrated healthcare service provider with 24 operational hospitals, over 125 health centres and medical support services spread across the GCC and India. It also runs one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Dubai and operates retail pharmacies across Abu Dhabi.
“We have a truly global workforce comprising more than 13,000 people belonging to 78 nationalities. Many Indians work in our hospitals and other companies across verticals with varying levels of experience. We have Indians working in the roles of doctors, nurses, support staff and administrative officials,” Vayalil said.
The group is involved in a host of initiatives that reflect responsibility towards society. During the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, VPS Healthcare extended support to the state government by supplying medicine and safety equipment worth Rs 2 crore. In 2010, jobs and education assistance were offered to the families of the air crash victims in Mangalore. Artificial limbs and wheelchairs have also been donated to the differently abled in Kerala.
“The desire to give back to society is at the heart of all our philanthropic endeavours. We aim to create a positive social impact through our CSR and charity initiatives in the GCC as well as India. Our work in disaster response has touched the lives of many,” Vayalil said. In 2018, when devastating floods caused massive destruction in Kerala, he lent a helping hand to the state government by sending 100 tonnes of medicines and relief material worth Rs 12 crore via a special aircraft.
Reconstructing the primary health centre at Vazhakkad is part of the next phase, in response to the Rebuild Kerala initiative.
Vayalil lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but his parents and extended family are in Kerala. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it, I would travel to India at least once a month to visit my family as well as attend business and board meetings. Today, I travel less as most of the business meetings have gone online,” he said.
With restrictions eased, he has resumed trips to India and other countries. His most recent visit to India was in February 2021 to meet the Chief Election Commissioner to discuss the voting rights of NRIs, an issue which is close to his heart.

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