“If we want our villages to be healthy we have to look at it in a holistic manner. So far when we thought about health in villages we thought about only the hospitals and primary health centres now we are thinking about village health in a holistic manner. We need not only the cure but also the prevention of disease, which is equally vital for health”, said Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary Ministry of Panchayati Raj in his welcome address.
Shri Sunil Kumar was addressing the National Conference on Localisation of SDGs on Healthy Village and Socially Secured Village– fifth in the series of National Conferences organized by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj to mark Iconic Week celebrations in commemoration ofAzadiKaAmritMahotsav.The National Conference was inaugurated by Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj by lighting of the lamp along with Shri Nagendra Nath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Shri Ravi Shankar Shrivastava, Director General of Indira Gandhi Panchayati Raj &GraminVikasSansthan (I.G.P.R. & G.V.S.), Jaipur, Dr.Roderico H.Ofrin, Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Chandra Shekhar Kumar, Additional Secretary, MoPR and Smt. Rekha Yadav, Joint Secretary, MoPR.
Shri Sunil Kumar narrated the experience of how Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh was controlled by improving health services and health infrastructure. “if we address the root of the problem which is leading to aggravation of problems and diseases we can ensure good health at the grassroots level”, said Shri Sunil Kumar, Union Secretary.
Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj also said that reaching out to everyone is a challenge as local people should be communicated in their own language. “We are working towards that and am sure we would meet this challenge as well. This is of course a big challenge but I am sure we will be able to overcome this bottleneck as well.Shri Sunil Kumar emphasised on the importance of health in the development of villages, Health in the villages could be attained through convergence with other line Departments. He expressed satisfaction that 26 Ministries and Departments of Government of India have resolved to coming together towards attaining the SDG goals and health is one of the major focus areas.
Speaking at the occasion Shri NagendraNath Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development said that health is just not about treatment, what you eat, drink, hygienic conditions, environment everything goes into keeping a person healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The Gram Panchayats have a vital role in achieving these. All the representatives of Gram Panchayats and Rural Local Bodies should think about it to ensure these at the village level. “If we care then there is so much ancient wisdom hidden in our adage and idioms that can come handy to keep us healthy. We should make use of our local wisdom accumulated over centuries to attain the goal of a healthy village,” Dr.NagendraNath Sinha said in his address.
Shri NagendraNath Sinha told that even today the people of the village are full of enriched knowledge about improving health and they can secure the health of the people by their knowledge and experience. Citing example of Latur District, he informed that they eradicated Malaria by simple means of creating soak pits. Such simple measures can also help achieving Healthy Villages.
Shri Sinha also advised the Panchayat representatives that they should be more concerned about the people in their villages who are weak, disabled, old or are suffering from diseases and treat them as members of their extended families so that the whole village becomes a Healthy Village.
On this occasion, a Joint Statement of Understanding was signed by Shri Sunil Kumar, Secretary Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Dr.Roderico H.Ofrin, Country Representative of World Health Organization (WHO) to India to make this event memorable and to work jointly in future for this noble cause. Also Shri Ravi Shankar Shrivastava DG, IGPR&GVS and Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj released the Panchayat material in Braille script and assured that it would be translated in every language so that no one is left behind.
“Mahatma Gandhi had said that the soul of India lives in its villages and indeed that is so true, we need to reach out to the people in the villages” Dr Ofrin said.Thanking the Secretary,MoPR and Ministry of Panchayati Raj for inviting him Dr.Roderico H.Ofrin said that they already have a long standing relationship with the Ministry of Health& Family Welfare and now it would be great to be working with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj to take their programs and policies to the village level.
A film on Healthy Village from Changsu Traditional Local Body, Nagaland was also screened for the benefit of participating Panchayat representatives.
Taking forward the Technical Session-1 of the program, Shri M.A. Balasubramanya, Director, Fit India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare explained the role of Panchayati Raj Institutions in health services. Dr.Roderico H.Ofrin, representative from World Health Organization(WHO) also explained in details about communicable and non-communicable diseases and its prevention.
Shri Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health &Family Welfare explained how a communicable and non-communicable disease affects common life and how the Ministry has been successful in controlling communicable diseases to a large extent. Thematic video presentations were played on the theme of Healthy Village by the States/UT of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Gujarat and Rajasthan and elected representatives, mainly Sarpanch/ Mukhiya of Gram Panchayatsalso shared their experience in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in respect of themes focussing Healthy Village and Socially Secured Village.