Kerala health minister’s absence at hospital inauguration irks NRI entrepreneur


Abdul Latheef ‘Uppala’, an NRI healthcare entrepreneur, runs nearly 30 hospitals in the Middle East and India. Latheef said he had invited Kerala Health Minister Veena George to inaugurate his Rs100 crore Wintouch Multispeciality Hospital at Kasargod. He claimed he even changed the date of the inauguration to make it convenient for the minister to be part of the event. However, he claimed the the minister failed to attend the function even though she was present in the district.

“All we wanted was five minutes of her time. We feel insulted and demoralised. This will be my last project in Kerala,” said Latheef after the programme. He added that a state government representative inaugurating the hospital would have been an encouragement for other entrepreneurs to invest in Kerala.

Latheef said leaders from Kasargod had approached him to start a multispecialty hospital in Kasargod after the Karnataka government allegedly blocked the roads to Mangaluru. During the Covid pandemic, patients from Kasaragod were denied treatment and almost 36 people succumbed to the disease due to non-availability of proper treatment. “With Wintouch Hospital, I have kept my promise,” he said.

According to Latheef, he had contacted three MLAs to find out when the Health Minister would be free to attend the inauguration. Thus the date was fixed for November 13. Later, Latheef was informed that the minister would be in town on November 9, and the date was advanced and a Press conference was held on November 8, where Latheef announced that the Health Minister would inaugurate the hospital.

However, the same evening, Latheef was informed that Veena George would not attend the event. “All we needed was five minutes of her time. If she had said in advance that she could not come, we could have brought Union ministers or IUML leaders,” he said. He added that the minister’s actions were not in line with the state government’s policy of attracting NRI investments.

At the recent Rising Kasargod investment summit organised by the district panchayat, Latheef had promised to set up a medical college in Kasargod. “I was not bluffing. I have set up 29 hospitals. But I have had enough. There is no investment in Kerala from now,” he said.

With the opening of Wintouch hospital, patients from Kasargod will not have to travel for their health needs. The five storeyed state-of-the-art hospital has started full-fledged operations.

Latheef runs the Badr Al Sama Group of Hospitals in Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. He also owns the Indiana Hospital and Heart Institute in Mangaluru, runs several other hospitals, schools and colleges, and has interests in real estate and jewellery business.


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