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India needs to plan public health investments ensuring equity: PHFI President

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on November 30, 2020 Published on November 30, 2020

K Srinath Reddy

K Srinath Reddy delivers convocation address at Ahmedabad University cautioning students of future health emergencies

A bi-directional relationship between economic development and public health requires India to plan its investments in health for economic development while ensuring equity to benefit all sections of society, informed top public health expert here.

In his convocation address during the 10th convocation of Ahmedabad University held on Sunday, K Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) expressed concerns about the prolonged neglect of the public health sector for several years. “But as the economic development enhances population health, health is also a great investment for accelerated economic growth,” he stated adding that there is a bi-directional relationship between economic development and public health. “One perpetuates and precipitates the other,” he said.

Cautioning the graduating students about the future challenges, Reddy quoted projections by models on a challenging public health situation likely to arise in India 2050. There would be about 49.6 million new zinc-deficient persons, 38.2 million new protein-deficient persons, and about 106.1 million children and 396 million women facing iron-deficiency and anemic.

“It is necessary for us to recognise what lies ahead so that we can change that future. Never before in human history have we been so forewarned about the fate that awaits us, if we do not take action,” he said.

“But never before in human history have we been so forearmed with the knowledge, and technologies, and tools and skills to alter that future. It is a challenge to human intellect and enterprise as to how best we use all of them to build a better future,” Reddy said.

A total of 826 students received degrees including 608 from the Amrut Mody School of Management, 132 from the School of Engineering & Applied Science, 50 from the School of Arts & Sciences, and 36 students from the School of Computer Studies. It also included four doctoral students – two each from Life Sciences and Engineering.

Also graduated is the first cohort of the Global Executive MBA in Pharmaceutical Management and the lone graduate from the MA in Economics programme.

Reddy underlined the importance to apply the interdisciplinary education that Ahmedabad University has provided to enable multi-sectoral action to restructure and rebuild society.

“Even when we are talking about zoonotic diseases like Covid we must recognise that there is a strong environmental connection. Zoonotic diseases often start from microbes that habitually reside in wild animals but enter captive-bred veterinary populations of human habitat through conveyor belts created by human folly. Let us commence by correcting the corroded connections between deforestation, agriculture, climate change, and human health,” Reddy said.

The Chancellor, Sanjay Lalbhai asked students to tap new opportunities of the next decade in technology and healthcare, in new materials and manufacturing, and new areas of sustainability.

Vice-Chancellor Pankaj Chandra encouraged the students to identify many systems of knowledge that are required to solve challenging problems stating that it provides for a deep enquiry to develop expertise in a chosen area.

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Published on November 30, 2020
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