Dr. Vinod Shah, a paediatric surgeon by training, has played a vital role in improving and transforming healthcare in the country especially for the poor and the marginalised through his service in various mission hospitals and organisations. Over the years, he has been a visionary, a pace-setter for mission hospitals, a skilled clinician and administrator and an inspiration to all he come in contact with.
Dr. Vinod Shah was born in Mattancherry, Kerala to Jain parents who were businessmen native to Gujarat. His first exposure to Jesus’ teachings was as a result of his father advising him to read the ‘Sermon on the mount’ because Gandhiji had read it. Reading a bible given to him by one of the teachers in the Loyola College, Chennai, where he did a pre-university course in 1963, he decided to become a follower of the Christ.
Academic pursuits and missionary work
He joined the Christian Medical College, Vellore in 1964 as a medical student and it was here, in his third year, that he decided to become a missionary doctor to serve the unserved. He did his M.S. in General surgery in 1973 in the same institution. True to his calling and faith, after his graduation, the young doctor started a small clinic in a shed in Danta village, Gujarat among the Bhil tribals. He soon found favour with the local Rajput king, and was offered the palace durbar to set up his hospital. He became famous among the local populace for his surgical skill and daring, performing a large number of procedures across a wide variety of specialities. He then went on to do his M.Ch. in Pediatric surgery in 1982, in CMC Vellore.
After his post-graduation, he joined the IEM (Indian Evangelical Mission) as its medical director and then worked in the CSI hospital in Bangalore before joining the EHA (Evangelical Hospital Association) as the Medical Director and then as the Executive Director from 1996 – 2004. A visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit, his stint with the IEM and EHA saw him opening several new hospitals in the Koya region in AP, Bastar in MP, South Gujarat and Himachal among others, and reviving run-down and ailing hospitals in various places, transforming the health scenario in various far-flung places across the length and breadth of India. Apart from his administrative acumen, he is a source of inspiration to several young doctors who have gone to start and run mission hospitals.
In 2004, Dr Shah returned to CMC Vellore to launch another enterprise for the Kingdom. He had realised that mission hospitals alone could not transform the health of this country. Transformation was also needed among general practitioners in private practice and government service across the country. Towards this end, he founded the Distance Education Unit in September 2004. The unit started a “Refer Less, resolve more” initiative in the form of a 2 year Post Graduate Diploma in Family Medicine (PGDFM). This programme has now grown, reaching out to the entire country and even abroad in Africa and South-east Asia offering various courses like the Master in Medicine (M.Med.) programme, Distance Fellowship in Diabetes management and Community Lay Leader’s Health Training Certificate programme.
He served as the CEO of the ICMDA, (International Christian Medical and Dental Association) a global movement which brings together Christian National Medical and Dental Organisations in fellowship, witness and service for 8 years.
He currently serves as a senior surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital & Leprosy centre, Chetpet, Tiruvanamalai SH.
His family consists of his wife, Dr. Shalini Shah, a public health consultant and his three grown children, Arpan, Pritica and Rohan.