Dr. M.A. Abdulla, the founder of Chest Hospital, hails from Veliathunaadu, Aluva. Born in a peasant family to Abdulrehman and Pathumma, Dr. Abdulla completed his MBBS from Madras Medical College, then took Diploma in Tuberculosis Diseases (TDD) and joined the government service as a chest and tuberculosis specialist.
Tuberculosis, during that period was considered as non-curable disease and besides, it was always associated with poverty – a poor man’s disease. While working as tuberculosis specialist at Beach hospital, Calicut, Dr. Abdulla’s expertise along with his sympathetic and reassuring nature, consoled and gave solace to innumerable patients. When all other departments in Calicut Beach Hospital (then a part of Calicut Medical College) had concrete building, this department functioned for years under an open thatched roof.
A man of high moral values, Dr. Abdulla stood out for his simplicity and non-materialistic attitude. Even in 1990s, he only took Rs. 2 as consultation charges from his patients and kept certain beds in general ward free of cost for the underprivileged. He believed a smile, a hand shake or a pat on the shoulder works wonder with patients and practiced it all through his life.
The sufferings and the social stigma - attached to it made Dr. Abdulla take a strong decision that he will do the best he can, to eradicate the disease from the society. He founded the Chest Hospital in 1974 and served as the Medical Superintendent until his death in 2015.
Dr. Abdulla was a social reformer too, besides his medical commitments; he found time to work for the upliftment of the Muslim community. He strongly articulated the need for good education and was directly involved in the formation of the Muslim Educational Society (MES). It was at his residence in Chinthavalappu, Calicut, that MES framed the organizational structure of the society, and the house still stands testimony to an embossed brass plate.
MES will always be indebted to Dr. Abdulla for his uncompromising and meticulous management of the Society. He stressed the need to stand united and set up an honest and transparent financial structure, which paved way for the growth of the society. Today MES runs 150 institutions, employs around 15000 staff and imparts education to more than 80000 students.
Dr. Abdulla believed in giving a free hand to the doctors in decision making, and never criticized them in their failures. He maintained a great interpersonal relationship with all the staff at the hospital and was approachable to anyone to air their grievances.
The un-daunting life-force of this meritorious doctor philanthropist, the value he inculcated is still the guiding spirit and strength of Chest hospital.
Message from the Founder
Late Dr. M.A. Abdulla (8-6-1924—26-07-2015)
Dr. MA Abdulla, with his wife Smt. P.K. Ayisha, his supporter and strength. She was the Managing Partner of the hospital and stood by him in all his endeavors. She passed away on 27 July 2016
In the 1950s, leprosy and tuberculosis were the two diseases that affected the poorest of our country. I was often hurt, seeing society stigmatizing those affected by tuberculosis. Young girls, who took treatment, never got alliances; mothers were kept away from their children; and fathers were not allowed to mingle with their family members…such heart-rending realities often put me off. That was the time when tuberculosis was considered to be an incurable poor man’s disease, was considered taboo and those affected were ostracized. I made up my mind to study the subject. Even though I had the opportunity to go for more lucrative specialties, I took up the challenge to specialize in tuberculosis.
After 20 years of practice as a tuberculosis specialist, various factors converged and I decided to start a nursing home specializing in chest diseases. It was not easy to start, but with passion and dedication I decided to move ahead.
We started with a small set-up; later by dint of hard work and commitment, we went ahead. Our venture was the first-of-its-kind in the field of tuberculosis and chest diseases in the private sector in Kerala.
Since 1988, we have been following all the advancements in chest medicine and the various specialties related to it. At present, we have specialized departments such as Asthma and Respiratory Allergy, Thoracic Surgery, Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery, Intensive Respiratory Care Unit, Sleep Laboratory. In addition, in 1990, we set up a Diabetes Centre, with modern amenities, ENT and advanced imaging facility.
Our motto is to make available standard medical care for the poor and the middle-income group, and to work as a referral Centre for diagnostic and therapeutic work for chest diseases. I believe, to a large extend we have succeeded in our efforts.
(This message was prepared based on excerpts from an interview of Dr. MA Abdulla, conducted by Dr. C.P. Rauf, MD)