|21 October, 2019

Profit a by-product, not our purpose in healthcare, says Aster's Moopen

Dubai's healthcare titan has pledged 20 percent of his wealth towards philanthropic activities

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai with Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare. Image courtesy Aster DM Healthcare website.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai with Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare. Image courtesy Aster DM Healthcare website.

From a single doctor’s practice, set up 32 years ago in Bur Dubai, the founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare has built his company into a remarkable integrated healthcare provider with the largest network in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and India, with 25 hospitals, 115 clinics and 231 pharmacies through three brand channels - Aster, Medcare and Access.

Moopen, who is a gold medalist in MBBS from India and started his career as a medical lecturer, now employs about 20,000 employees across geographies catering to 18.5 million people annually.

The physician is no stranger to philanthropic activities. His father had participated in the Indian freedom movement and was also a social leader. 

Following the philanthropic tradition, Moopen has pledged 20 percent of his time and wealth for charitable activities to enable social change. "I have always believed that profit should be a by-product and not our purpose in healthcare," he said during an interview to Zawya in September.

He recalled that way back in 1980s when medical consultation fees in Dubai were between 10-15 UAE dirhams, he used to offer free services to blue-collar workers who could ill afford to pay him.

He set up the Aster MIMS Charitable Trust in early 2000s, closely followed by Aster DM Foundation and Dr. Moopen’s Family Foundation,  .

"It is my responsibility to give a part of the benefits back to the society, especially for those most in need," he said.

Volunteers programme

The Aster Volunteers Programme, launched in 2017 (which was earlier known as Aster DM Foundation) promotes the concept of volunteerism in healthcare. Today, Aster has more than 8,000 volunteers who are part of the programme and plans are in the pipeline to increase their number to 25,000.   

"There are many who require help and many others who are ready to help – The Aster Volunteer must bridge that gap," Moopen said. He plans to make the Aster Voluteers programme to be a global movement.

Already, Aster programme has touched more than one million lives, across the GCC, India, Philippines, Jordan, Somaliland and Bangladesh.

The programmes are operating across nine countries and are based on six pillars, he explained.

Free surgeries and investigations, Basic Life Support Awareness, Disaster Management and Refugee Support Programme, Free Medical and Wellness Camp, Mobile medical services, and Recruitment and support of people with determination.

Recognition for CSR initiatives

Moopen's mantra has been to provide quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible. His CSR (corporate social responsibilty) efforts have received recognition at the highest levels in the UAE.

Last week, Aster won two awards for its charitable initiatives. The company was awarded with the CSR Label by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is the highest level of recognition for CSR in the Middle East.

Aster also bagged an award at the Arabia CSR Awards for its community development initiatives in the healthcare category. 

Focus on India

The healthcare group is one of the largest not only in the Middle East but also in India. Consequently, the group's titan has placed a significant emphasis on giving back to his home country, whether through his business or CSR activities.

Aster has built 13 hospitals in various parts of India. The company went public in India in 2018 and raised $150 million in funding. 

In 2018 and earlier this year, the iconic chairman reached out to the people of Kerala, his home state in India, which was hit by devastating floods.

Aster volunteers helped more than 100,000 people in remote areas and provided humanitarian and medical aid during floods in Kerala in 2018 and 2019 and also in Maharashtra earlier this year.

Moopen launched Aster Homes project in 2018 to provide 250 houses to people who lost their homes during the floods. The first set of 100 homes are almost ready to be handed over to flood victims.

Additionally, Aster has built a new school building for the children with special needs at a cost of about INR 2 crores (over $281,000) in India.

"To be able to create a platform and transforming it to a people’s movement... has greatly impacted my personal life, as it gives a meaning to life and makes you feel accomplished," he said.



Dr Azad Moopen , Founder Chairman & Managing Director , Aster DM Healthcare.

Grassroot intervention

Moopen said that grassroot intervention to facilitate medical care for the needy will drive the extension of Aster Volunteers Mobile Medical Services in India and the GCC.

In September 2019, Aster teamed up with Joy Arakkal to drive charitable initiatives in Wayanad, Kerala. Around 35-40 houses would be built by Aster volunteers.

In Wayanad, Aster volunteers have already introduced healthcare interventions for the tribal population to ensure that basic facilities are accessible.    

Inspired by great philanthropists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, Moopen says, he would "like to inspire others with my efforts in a small way."

(Reporting by Mily Chakrabarty; Editing by Daniel Luiz)

(mily.chakrabarty@refinitiv.com)

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