Dr. Abhay Bang was raised in Gandhiji’s Sevagram Ashram. Inspired by the life of the Mahatma, he was driven by the idea of serving the people of rural India at a very young age. Dr. Rani Bang, on the other hand, came from an affluent family, but was an ardent believer in simplicity and serving the people. Choosing a life of service over wealth, she joined her husband in what would be a life-long mission to serve the community. Together they echoed Mahatma Gandhi’s voice – Go to the villages of India.
After completing their respective post-graduation degrees as MD in Medicine and MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the desire to engage in impactful public health service and research in Indian villages, led them to the Johns Hopkins University, USA. Upon their return, they decided that research is to be conducted where the problems are, and not where the facilities are. In their joint quest to find effective ways of solving the biggest healthcare challenges in the community, they realised the power of community based research.
Upon return from the States, they chose to work in Gadchiroli, one of the least developed, most neglected regions of India, where health care was an urgent necessity. They established the tribal friendly hospital and a community-based healthcare programme in 134 villages. This doctor couple are the only Indian medical researchers to have conducted and published in the Lancet, a worldwide premier medical journal, three original research papers on three different health problems each of which was a global first.
The Home-based Newborn Care approach developed under the leadership of Dr. Abhay Bang has now become a national program of the Government of India and has been replicated in several countries. He has led the designing and the training of national and state trainers for the national programme in India. Dr. Rani’s grassroots work on the gynaecological problems in rural women facilitated a change in the global policy at Cairo, (1994), wherethe paradigm shifted from ‘Population Control’ to ‘Women’s Reproductive Health’. Responding to the community’s need, the couple led a district-wide movement against alcohol in the early nineties, a movement that resulted in a ban of alcohol in the district.
Over the years, the public health activist and researcher couple has been honoured with ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’, the highest award conferred by the State Government of Maharashtra, the first ever Distinguished Alumnus Award from Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University, the Mahatma Gandhi Award, the ICMR award and nearly 70 other national and international awards. They were selected as ‘Global Health Heroes’ by the TIME Magazine in 2005 and as ‘Public Health Champion’ by WHO in 2016.
Dr. Abhay Bang is the Chairman of the Expert Committee for Tribal Health, appointed by the Government of India to frame the first Tribal Health Policy and recommend the design of Tribal Healthcare in the country. He is Advisor to the state level task force that has been constituted under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, to effectively implement the ban on alcohol and tobacco, and create awareness. He is also a member of the Central Health Council, the apex body of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
Dr. Abhay and Dr. Rani have also won the State Literary Awardsfor the books माझा साक्षात्कारी हृद्यरोग and गोईण (meaning ‘Friend’ in the Gondi language of tribal people).
Awards and Important positions held by Dr. Abhay Bang
Awards and Important positions held by Dr. Rani Bang