Charu is a small-time farmer in Gundlupet, a small village about 60 km from Mysore. Last week, an accident at home left his 23-year-old son Ganesh fighting for survival with severe burns. Gundlupet only has primary health centres, which are not equipped to handle severe burn victims. So Charu rushed his son to Vaatsalya in Mysore, the hospital nearest to his village, and managed to have him treated in the nick of time. Earlier, he would have had travel all the way to Bengaluru, 200 km away. For Charu and Ganesh, Vaatsalya made the difference between life and death. Since its inception in 2005, the Vaatsalya chain of hospitals has been making this difference many times over in the lives of the people of smaller towns and villages across the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh — from saving newborn babies, seeing mothers through difficult pregnancies, and providing basic healthcare to which most of them had no access till then. Vaatsalya was founded by two doctors, Ashwin Naik and Veerendra Hiremath, who grew up in Hubli, a town 420 km away from Bangalore. On his many visits to Hubli to see his parents, Naik was troubled by the lack of quality healthcare in smaller towns. Although nearly 70% of India’s population lives in these areas, it has access to only 20% of the healthcare facilities available in the country. It was a painful gap that was waiting to be addressed by Vaatsalya, which now has 15 hospitals — 10 in Karnataka (in places like Hubli, Bijapur, Mysore, Gulbarga and Shimoga) and five in Andhra Pradesh (Ongole and Anantapur). “People have gotten used to good quality healthcare by essentially travelling to the next biggest town,” says Naik, co-founder and CEO, Vaatsalya. “Now they want it in their own town.”

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