Indians encounter heart problems at a younger age than most in the West. They are genetically more vulnerable to a heart attack than Caucasians. This means that in India, heart disease is attacking the working population, whose dependents rely on their income.
To tackle this, it is estimated that India needs to carry out two million heart operations a year. However, currently all the heart hospitals in the country combined only perform about 120,000 heart operations a year.
Narayana Health is an Indian multi-specialty healthcare provider founded by renowned cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty. Heart surgery is expensive and Narayana is pioneering ways of cutting costs without cutting standards, so that healthcare can be delivered to lower-income patients. Around half of Narayana patients receive financial support for treatment, either from Narayana itself or through government schemes.
"We need to do two million heart operations a year in India and all the heart hospitals in the country put together perform about 120,000 heart surgeries. What happens to the rest? They die gradually over a period of time."
How CDC's investment supports Narayana Health
CDC invested US$48 million in Narayana Health in 2014. The investment is supporting the growth of the company, enabling it to employ and train more staff, as well as increase access to and improve the affordability of specialist healthcare in India.
Currently, capital from CDC is helping Narayana to build or expand hospitals in cities such as Kolkata, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Bengaluru.
Narayana sees CDC as a particularly important investor due to our long-term horizon, and the fact that we share similar developmental missions.
"CDC is like us. They look at the long-term horizon, they look at making this world a better place to live. As long as it’s going to touch more people, and help more people, they are supportive."
How Narayana Health supports low-income patients
Narayana has worked with several state governments in India to implement health insurance schemes which support lower-income patients to access its services.
For example, ten years ago it launched a farmers’ insurance scheme with the State Government of Karnataka. Under the scheme, four million farmers pay US$0.22 per month, and the Government acts as an insurer, allowing them to access any type of operation for free. To date, almost a million people have had surgery under the scheme.
Narayana runs a similar scheme with the State Government of Tamil Nadu. Prakash is a rickshaw driver in Hosur, a town in Tamil Nadu. He’s the breadwinner for a family of four. In 2012 he fell ill due to a heart problem. His illness made him lightheaded and tired, which meant continuing to work was very difficult. However, thanks to the subsidised healthcare scheme run between the State Government and Narayana Health, Prakash was able to get the heart surgery he urgently needed for free.
"I feel well. I don’t have any problems. Previously I was feeling tired. Now I feel better. Before, my family and I were worried, but now we are all happy."