Social Scientist. v 8, no. 87 (Oct 1979) p. 56.


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Health Care in Kerala

OVER-EMPHASIS on doctors and specialists, on hospitalized individual medical ^care to the detriment of primary health care of the ma??"^, on curative services to the neglect of preventive services; urban orientation and the neglect of rural masses, and the drain of limited resources in providing advanced levels of expensive specific care to a relatively small segment of the population are the main defects in the system of health care in India, according to Ramalingaswami.1

Eminent medical men like Majumdar,2 former president of the Indian Medical Association, Mahajan;3 B K Anand,4 Dean, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and R N Sinha,5 president, Association of Surgeons of India, and bodies like the World Health Organization and the] Shrivasthava Committee all have found that our system of health care is unsuitable to the needs of the society. This is true of Kerala as well.

Peopele generally think of health only when they are sick. That is why there is always a clamour for doctors, hospitals, beds, medicines and so on. In terms of human life, suffering and the loss of^time, wages and production the toll taken by diseases is tremendous. Yet people do not try to promote health or prevent disease. A study by the author and others in Athirampuzha around the Kottayam Medical College has shown that 86 percent of children below the age of five years were unprotected against tuberculosis^ polio, diphtheria,tetanus and whooping cough,though the vaccines were available free in the area for over 10 years.6 'In some cases, people did not know about the vaccines or their availability while in others they had not cared to avail of it.

Too much of specialization without regard to the needs of the society is an unfortunate trend in allopathy. Blind copying of Western practices and a desire to maintain international (Western) standards have caused this. Even the public have not only accep*



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