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From Gandhi to Gadchiroli—via Johns Hopkins

For nearly three decades MPH graduates Abhay and Rani Bang have dedicated their lives to tackling endemic health problems in rural India. 

 

When Abhay and Rani Bang earned his-and-hers MPH degrees here in 1984, the married couple was setting out on what would be a rich, lifelong mission to bring health care to India’s poorest people.

Fast-forward more than a quarter century: Abhay Bang returns April 10, 2013 to his alma mater to accept the Department of International Health’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his and Rani’s contributions to research and community health.

At a Maternal and Child Health symposium organized to honor the pair of physicians, Abhay Bang mentioned that a Bloomberg School student had asked for career advice, and that he told her, “Go to the places where nobody wants to go. That’s what I did.”

Inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Abhay and Rani Bang left Baltimore in 1984 for the impoverished and isolated Gadchiroli district in central India. There, the husband-and-wife team established SEARCH (Society for Education, Research and Action in Community Health) and developed a community care model that is now national health policy in India and widely replicated in other developing countries.

The Bang’s home-based package of neonatal care—delivered by village women trained through SEARCH—led to a dramatic drop in infant mortality.

During his visit here, Abhay Bang credited this School with providing the tools that he and his wife needed to realize their vision and put their ambitious plan into action.

“This [symposium],” he said, “is a tribute to the School’s teachers who shaped our life and work.” — Jackie Powder