Health visionary Devi Shetty receives honorary degree from the U of M
He’s known as the King of Hearts, Mother Theresa’s cardiologist, the founder of one of the word’s largest hospitals, and a champion of health care for the poor, young, and most vulnerable.
Devi Shetty has no intention of slowing down. This spring, the world-renowned cardiac surgeon traveled to the Twin Cities to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Minnesota. The Indian physician and U health care experts have forged close ties over the years in a common pursuit to improve health care access worldwide.
As founder and chair of Narayana Hrudayalaya, a 1,500-bed hospital near Bangalore, India, Shetty oversees an average of 40 adult heart surgeries a day and 16 pediatric heart surgeries. The “health city” operates on economies of scale that afford care to those who would otherwise go without. Beyond hospital walls, this access is expanded through a government-sponsored micro-insurance program that Shetty pioneered. Now hundreds of thousands of Indians have health care by paying a monthly fee of about 20 cents.
Technology gives rich people the heath care they always had, but a bit better. But it gives poor people what they could otherwise never dream about.
To reach those in remote areas, Shetty partners with the Indian Space Research Organization. To date, he and his colleagues have used telemedicine to treat 70,000 patients throughout Africa and India.
“Technology gives rich people the heath care they always had, but a bit better,” says Shetty. “But it gives poor people what they could otherwise never dream about.”
Shetty believes the economy of the 21st century will be driven by health care, and he intends to lead that drive. He plans to add 30,000 hospital beds across India, build a 2,000-bed hospital in the Cayman Islands, and bring 5,000 African and Afghan children to his facilities for care in the next five years.
“I believe health care should become a fundamental right for every citizen of this world,” he says. “I also believe India will become the first country to disassociate health care from affluence—and we’ll do it in the next 10 years.”