There is compassion or perhaps a mantra in Dr Zulekha’s brand of care, which has been benefiting innumerous patients since almost half a century and has had a lasting impact in the region.
In her own words, “Beyond the technology, besides the specialists, something more is there — the magic of a caring touch.” Others fondly call her ‘Mama Zulekha’ and she leads the Zulekha healthcare group.
Dr Zulekha Daud, founder and managing director of Zulekha Healthcare Group, has been selected for the outstanding contribution of an individual to the Middle East Healthcare Industry at Arab Health this year.
The journey began in the early 1960’s when Dr Zulekha came to the UAE after completing her medical degree from the Government Medical College in Nagpur. It was her father, Sadiq Vali, who advised her to go to the Gulf.
She chose the UAE over a lucrative job opening in the UK to help people in deep need of medical treatment. In the 1960’s, the UAE was a vast expanse of desert without any electricity and medical facilities were rudimentary. But despite all these unfavourable conditions, Dr Zulekha decided to stay on and serve the people.
Since there were no hospitals, she had to travel door-to-door even to carry out a normal delivery. “What I did was nothing greater than the need for medical attention. I borrowed strength from this overwhelming need of the people,” she says.
Even though today her involvement is largely administrative, the 73-year-old never feels tired or consumed by her work. About women she says, “A mother is a feeling. It is an emotion of care. As a thumb rule, women tend to nurture and love more than others. They empathize, they give, they feel thus they are motherly. Even as a little girl I knew I wanted to care and give comfort to society so I grew to become a doctor and with it came my identity.”
In 1991 she met with a horrific accident and was battling for her life in the ICU for several days with 18 bones fractured. With sheer determination she took to heavy exercises as she recuperated and began to walk again. Today her health can be the envy of people much younger.
Dr Zulekha started practising from her clinic in Sharjah as early as 1964. With just a bag and a few basic amenities (there were no nurses or assistants), she dedicated herself to the women who needed her services. Some cases came from faraway places and she treated one and all. In fact, she has attended to more than 10,000 deliveries till date.
In 1992, Dr Zulekha established Zulekha Hospital Sharjah followed by a medical centre in Dhaid. The year 2005 saw the establishment of a second hospital in Dubai. The 75-bed multi-specialty hospital has since proved to be a boon for the residents of Al Qusais, Al Nahda and Mirdiff areas.
Today, the Zulekha Healthcare Group is one of the largest private healthcare networks in the Gulf with two multi-specialty hospitals, three medical centers and three pharmacies. The group has over 1,250 personnel that include more than 200 qualified doctors, staff nurses and a host of paramedical staff.
Dr Zulekha has also been voted as the Gulf’s most powerful Indian woman by Arabian Business Power. She was also included in the top 10 of the most influential Indians in the Gulf by Arabian Business Power list.
The International Women’s Day Excellence Award by ‘Dhwani,’ the New Global Indian Excellence Award and the Lifetime Achievement – Healthcare Award for her Iconic Leadership and outstanding contribution to the industry at the Power Brands Hall of Fame 2012 are a few tributes.
In 2012, Zulekha Hospital (Dubai & Sharjah) received the Dubai Quality Award from Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of DIFC for emphasizing quality healthcare in the region.
She established a charitable trust under the name of Zed vocational and training centre in 2004, mainly providing education to the needy and poor segment of the society in Nagpur.
“I think the biggest success comes when we allow ourselves to be large enough to accept when we have been wrong. To move forward with learning is better than only moving forward and not understanding the lessons along the way. Times change, circumstances change, people change – how you change with these changes is what makes or breaks you.”
Courtesy : Khaleej Times