mobilization is going to be an important determinant in removing a 'community
famine' from India that is vastly
ignored by many who can make a difference in improving the lives of millions of
Indians who go hungry each day.
Delivering the Krishnan
Ang TANKER Foundation Endowment Lecture on Equity and the future of healthcare in India
in Chennai on the eve of India's 63rd Republic day celebration, Dr. Binayak
Sen, pediatrician, renowned public health doctor and human rights activist said,
without fulfilling the needs of millions of Indians who go without food and basic
healthcare, India cannot claim to have achieved true freedom.
Adult undernutrition very simply happens, "when you
are hungry, and you consistently don't get anything to eat," Dr. Sen said. Adult malnutrition can be measured by Body
Mass Index (BMI) and a BMI below 18.5 indicates chronic undernutrition. Quoting
statistics Dr. Sen showed how 37% of adult Indians, 50% of adults belonging to
the Scheduled Tribes and 60% of adult Indians belonging to the Scheduled castes
have a BMI below 18.5, which makes them chronically undernourished. Large
sections of the Indian population are caught up in the middle of an enormous
famine, while only child malnutrition which the Prime Minister recently labeled
'a national shame' has come under the spotlight.
A community famine of such proportions that has been
allowed to be stable for so long is a chronic phenomenon and can only be
eliminated by the collective will of every responsible citizen, Dr. Sen
observed. While the Food Security Bill is still pending before the Parliament,
the Planning Commission's miscalculated statement that 1800 calories/day are
enough for an adult (2,400/day is a healthy requirement) is a retrograde step
which could keep millions still undernourished.
Talking on healthcare in India, Dr. Sen said it was
a social obligation to ensure that nobody is denied of healthcare because of their
inability to pay the bills. The current proposal to increase GDP spending in
India for healthcare to 2.5% is a major, positive level of development for healthcare
in India. Dr. Sen said India should move towards making available 'cashless' healthcare
with the money coming from tax structures. Health services offered in countries
like Brazil, Canada and Thailand are worth emulating he said, but ultimately
the health programs we devise should be our very own suited to the Indian setting.
The 19th TANKER (TamilNadu Kidney
Research Foundation) Annual Charity and Awards Nite 2012 hosting Dr. Binayak
Sen's lecture was a platform to recognize and appreciate the efforts of
professionals working tirelessly to improve the lives of people, especially
from the underprivileged sections of society, living with kidney diseases.
Dr. Georgi Abraham, Founder Trustee of TANKER
foundation welcomed the gathering and thanked them for their support and
contribution towards helping the underprivileged battle kidney disease. Chief Guest
of the evening Mr. Mike Nithavriyanakis, British deputy High Commissioner
presented awards for outstanding research, love for service, and awareness to
meritorious health professionals. The 'For the Sake of Honor' Award was presented
to Dr. Binayak Sen for his outstanding work among tribals in Chhattisgarh.