At 35, the erudite and elegant Upasana Kamineni Konidela, Vice-Chairperson, CSR, Apollo Foundation, is the force behind making sure healthcare reaches as many people as possible. Based in Hyderabad, she recently launched the online wellness platform URLife, which caters to all looking for expert advice by certified and trained professionals. It has reached one million people through its social channels combined, recording a subscriber sign-up of 7.5 lakh at last count.
All the while Konidela blazes ahead, revolutionising children's healthcare: In partnership with Saving a Child Initiative (SACHi), the Foundation is providing free digital consultation with Apollo doctors for the underprivileged young (16 years or under) pan India, with over 200 paediatric specialists on board as human capital.
Why now? "It is the Apollo vision that no child must be denied access to healthcare. With the pandemic surging forth through successive waves, children's health deserves even greater focus with the vaccine available for the young ones posing a huge challenge," says Konidela. Collaborating with NGOs to deepen the pan-India reach, the initiatives have gained momentum and larger dimensions in the wake of the pandemic.
"After creating a success story with treating young ones afflicted with cancer, orthopaedic, and congenital issues, we have strengthened our resolve with SACHi. Wellness has to be treated like a medicine," she says.
"We must encourage people to go to qualified doctors, dietitians and nutritionists. The pandemic has brought about new body composition and created a sort of vulnerability in us at many levels. People are hesitant to reach out to wellness experts. As part of SACHi, our doctors also counsel parents to alleviate their worries," she says.
Her stress is on certified voices as she believes there is a big difference between an influencer and an expert. An influencer is eating right, looking great, but cannot match the qualification and experience that an expert brings along, explains Konidela, who struggled with weight issues growing up too.
Then there is mental health. "People are apprehensive to reach out for help, which is why we have created videos to browse through digitally." It is a tall legacy that Konidela lives up to. Her grandfather Dr Prathap C Reddy, the founder of the Apollo Hospitals empire, revolutionised healthcare in India.
Her maternal aunts - Preetha Reddy, Sangita Reddy, and Sunita Reddy - are directors at Apollo Hospitals. Konidela carries the torch forward zealously. "I have been working for more than 21 years now. My grandfather always says that I have been born in the family for a reason: I need to use it right, else it will be a waste of a lifetime. These words always stay with me," she shares.
SACHi began as a Saving a Child's Heart initiative 15 years ago with heart surgeries for children with congenital issues, who couldn’t afford treatment. "Today with the uncertainties the pandemic has brought in, with a situation where our young ones are not even vaccinated, their health assumes an even more important dimension," she says, adding, "Half the battle is won when you understand how to deal with a situation: this awareness is the key to well-being. Providing access, for more and more people, is the solution. As the consecutive COVID waves struck the country, we had over 300 trained warriors venturing into tribal areas to educate people on how to deal with the pandemic."
Now with URLife, her core focus is on building authentic and holistic wellbeing content to channelise the power of micro/macro communities for building a solid content-to-commerce model.The infrastructure that Apollo brings along fortifies her mission.
"We are collaborating with NGOs on multiple projects to extend medical help to the underprivileged kids. Luckily, we have the bandwidth in terms of technical and expert prowess to deal with most problems. This enables us to map the medical history of the child before she comes in. We have brought in a holistic healthcare umbrella given that many are hesitant to take to allopathic medicines. We have brought in naturopathy too," she explains.
Konidela is a formidable star on the country's healthscape, determined to revolutionise wellness in the truest sense. Her husband Ram Charan is a superstar in the Telugu film industry, following the footsteps of his father, megastar Chiranjeevi.
So how does the great balancing act spell out for her? "For me, wellness means being around my loved ones," she laughs, admitting that she re-energises through adequate sleep. "Charan and I watch plenty of television. We binge on movies and series too," she shares.
Her passion for animals recently made her adopt a lion and a lioness. She also provided lunch to over 450 employees at the Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad. If she had to give one piece of advice, what would that be? "Prioritise your personal growth. Be kind to others. It will improve your well-being."
"I am very optimistic. The biggest challenge within healthcare is educating people about the treatments available and making them accessible," she adds.
She has More to say
People are unaware of the benefits of health insurance offered by the corporates. That lack of awareness of what is available is a huge challenge.
True influence lets you eat right and look great. Listen to experts but not to those who have no degree and are not a certified voice.
People are apprehensive to reach out to mental health experts. That is why we have created video content that can be browsed digitally.
You are the best judge of what your own body needs, so be wise in your choices