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Building a fairer, healthier world ! World Health Day Reckoning : By Dr. Ashwani K. Malhotra

Building a fairer, healthier world ! World Health Day Reckoning : By Dr. Ashwani K. Malhotra

When I was a student in the 1970s in Dhanbad, the Government hospital OPDs were crowded by mostly the poor, malnourished and illiterate villagers from far flung villages and the wards were overflowing with patients, at time two patients to a bed. Many patients and their relatives would make the paths to the wards their temporary abode and sleep there till they got a bed in the ward. The burden of diseases was largely shared by the water, air and vector borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, jaundice, respiratory illnesses and malaria and it was not uncommon to see an epidemic now and then.

The commoner would often come fleeced by the village quack in an advanced state of illness in the absence of a well entrenched health system in the villages of Jharkhand. No wonder, then that the death rate was quite high in those days in infants and children and women in the maternal age group due to multiple pregnancies and their complications.

Later on, after graduation, as I joined the Punjab Civil Medical Services , I would come to see the same types of communicable diseases along with the non communicable ones, like high blood pressure and heart diseases, diabetes , HIV and cancer and many more, attributable to our changing lifestyle due to economic and social changes from rapid urbanization, migration to cities and a general improvement in the economic status of the people, though not to a great extent as we see today . What has not changed is the number of patients who on any working day, people from far flung areas throng the district hospitals and other Government Health Centres in the country for redress of their sickness.

The rich and the affluent, of course consulted the best of doctors in their private clinics and nursing homes and still do so. With the advent of the corporate hospitals, healthcare has become more within the reach of the large middle working class. Yet the majority of the poor people visit the public sector hospital, waiting for hours to consult the doctor or for a date for an operation !

Health is a fundamental right. Yet many in the country, especially in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, U.P., Orissa and West Bengal are unable to exercise this right due to ignorance, poverty, illiteracy, superstitions, a thriving quackery and due to a inaccessibility from the nearest health facility.

Things, however are not all that bad. We have wonderful public health institutions like the AIIMS, PGI and the Government medical colleges and a wide network of CHCs, PHCs with ANMs and staff nurses posted in almost all the rural health centres. The ASHA workers, the anganwaaris, midday meal programme in schools and immunization at the village level have done wonders along with the improvement in sanitation and supply of potable drinking water to reduce the mortality rates in infants, children under five and pregnant women.

When Covid-19 struck last year we were found wanting in the health infrastructure to deal with the patients and deaths. However, a year later we are at par, if not better than the most advanced countries. And the public sector has done wonders to tackle this pandemic in terms of testing, treatment and vaccination! Covid-19 has highlighted the inequity in health in some people who not only have better health, but better access to health services than others. Elsewhere some people have better health due to a clean environment, better nutrition, housing, income, employment and better health services.

On 7th April 2021, World Health Day is celebrated throughout the World by the World Health Organization and many countries to build a fairer, healthier world in times when the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the people hard!

Dr Ashwani K. Malhotra  MBBS, PGDMCH, PGDMLS,  is a retired Senior Medical Officer,Punjab Government,and can be reached @M-9417188867 E-mail :

Dr Ashwani K. Malhotra  is an Alumnus Of SCD Govt. College, Ludhiana


Pankaj Sarin April 7, 2021 at 4:57 am

Well Explained

kulvinder Singh April 7, 2021 at 5:08 am

Wonderfully explained..but still I feel we have miles to go before medical needs of most people are taken care for the corporate hospitals ..less said is all one can do..God save all of us

Moninder Singh April 7, 2021 at 5:37 am

Well written article… .. Govt must increase Secondary and Tertiary Health service in India …

Dr.N.P.Singh April 7, 2021 at 5:52 am

Nicely written life history sir.Nice article too.
God bless you long and happy life.

Anil Tangri April 7, 2021 at 6:09 am

Well written article. Our health care system still needs to upgrade to mitigate the miseries of poor and under privileged. Private clinics necessarily do not have best of doctors. Our public sector hospitals have many wonderful, experienced and expert doctors who are limited by the lack of infrastructure.

Jagdev Grewal April 7, 2021 at 7:30 am

Ground reality of health and relevant problems in Indian culture in well knitted and wonderful way. Congratulations

Sunil Chopra April 7, 2021 at 11:39 am

Dr.Malhotra,you have beautifully narrated your experiences in this blog.

The Global Talk April 8, 2021 at 5:00 am

Dear Friends

World health day is reminding us that health is not only physical health but it comprises mental , social and spiritual health

Our thought process is the foundation of keeping us healthy and without mental fitness , physical fitness can not be achieved .

We are day to day engrossed in discussing others demerits and waste thoughts coupled with negative thoughts have engulfed our basic portion of soul

We are attaching ourselves in more body conscious stage and are not aware about the regime of soul consciousness

I from my experience of 39 years of service narrates my colleagues that I have never availed any leave for taking rest during my entire service and only availed 72 leaves during the course of bank journey in service

The busy person always remain healthy but make it a habit that never create any ill will , hatred and jealousy for others and do not make any person responsible if some buffets are suffered in life and all sorrows as well as bad days are due to our past Karma

Always create assets of good wishes and we are grateful to Almighty that in service industry , good wishes are always in your door step .

Always leave knotty problems unto God as we are to do our Karma which should be done in the memory of lord Shiv

Always be helping hand and ready to do good to others than your physical fitness in the shape of your exercise / yoga will be attuned to your mind will bring smiling face for ever

Let all be remain healthy during this corona period and we must articulate process to remain happy by let go process and never keep rubbish in your brain and peacefully live with the grace of Almighty

These are all my personal experiences and I never copy and write my independent thoughts learnt through various seers of spirituality and colleagues

With best wishes on world health day

Ashok Arora
A Senior Banker (Retd. )

Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad April 8, 2021 at 8:41 am

You have written very nicely about the medical development of the last four decades .Advancement in the medical world is still not incorporated in our national system.we have not maintained the quality control of our paramedical staff


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