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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

outstanding landmark of OMR - VHS and pioneer Dr K.S. Sanjivi

The winding  Old Mahabalipuram Road (Rajiv Gandhi Salai)  starts near the Kasturibai Nagar Railway station -  the Madhya Kailash temple in Adyar in South Chennai – winds it way till Mahabalipuram – being the earliest route – it carries the name ‘Old Mahabalipuram Road’ – later named Rajiv Gandhi Salai.  The corridor, an ambitious six-lane project with service lanes and landscaping, came in to being around 2005 – the 1st phase being  20.1 km from Madhya Kailash junction  to Siruseri — it is ever expanding. I have earlier posted on the landmark ‘public arts’ that dot the road – the ‘flame thrower’ and the ‘ainthinai’......  this one for sure is the most important landmark situate at the start of the road itself.

It is Voluntary Health Services (VHS) – the city of Chennai now is famous for its multi-speciality hospitals – of the many prominent now in South Madras – VHS perhaps was a pioneer.... Voluntary Health Services came into being as a registered society in 1958, with 25 acres of land approved by the State Government in Adyar. VHS became a physical entity in 1961 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the cornerstone of the first block of buildings. The out-patient services, the diagnostic laboratory and the X-Ray department were started even as the first block was under construction.   The hospital was constructed on a land where once occasional cows came grazing and tractors and cycles made long trails. It has been providing quality healthcare at very low rates, taking care of the poor.

Now its sprawling complex and the service extended include : M.A.Chidambaram Institute of Community Health; South to South HIV/AIDS Resource Exchange (SHARE);  Tamilnadu AIDS Initiative (TAI); Rotary Central-TTK-VHS Blood Bank and more ......

As you enter the inspiring provider of medical service, one can see the statue in the forefront – it is that of Dr. K.S. Sanjivi, who conceived and ensured functioning of VHS. A man of immense discipline, he believed that masses had to be educated about health and hygiene; that it was not possible sitting in the comforts of a hospital room. Dr. Sanjivi advocated a preventive approach towards diseases. To cater to the different sections of society, several branches were set-up in the outskirts of Madras. All these mini-health centres acted like veins carrying the life-giving blood to the heart. 

The hospital’s website records that Dr K S Sanjivi, an eminent physician – scholar,  was greatly influenced by Gandhian thought and particularly by the philosophy of “Unto the Last”; he envisaged and made available health and medical services to the poorest of the poor through the establishment of the Voluntary Health Services in 1958.   The underlying ethos of VHS is that of prevention and cure of serious illness, fostering of the family as a unit for medical care, and facilitating active community participation in the provision of a continuum of health care, with special reference to disadvantaged groups such as women, children and elderly. VHS manages an extensive community health programme through 14 mini health centres located in the southern periphery of the city.   

Being a semi-government body, VHS mainly survived through beneficiaries. The first donation came from the Madras Race Club, that of Rs 5 lakh and the proceeds from a day’s racing. Several top medicos in Madras had served freely in VHS. Balasubramaniam Ramamurthi, considered as the Father of Neurosurgery of India, started the Neurosurgical Centre in the hospital in 1977-1978.  A generous donation from the trust fund of Dr. A. Lakshmipathi, father-in-law of Dr. Ramamurthi, provided the building to house the Dr. A. Lakshmipathi Neurosurgical Centre (ALNC), the second neurosurgical department to be started personally by Prof. B Ramamurthi. A group of eminent citizens of Madras such as the editor of The Hindu K. Srinivasan, the legal luminary T.R.Venkatarama Sastriar, the Congress leader M. Bhaktavatsalam and the industrialist M.A. Chidambaram all had provided support. 

Dr Sanjivi is no more, but the man’s vision has ensured the infrastructure which continues to serve the people. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Aug 2014.

1 comment:

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