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“The Challenge & Charm of Research with the People ” – Ida S. Scudder Humanitarian Oration Delivered by Dr. Abhay Bang

Every year, the Christian Medical College Vellore (CMC), together with the Vellore CMC Foundation, honors Dr. Ida S. Scudder’s legacy by recognizing an individual (or couple) who exemplify her courage, compassion, and dedication to the
service of humanity.

At the 11th annual Dr. Ida S. Scudder Humanitarian Oration, CMC was delighted to honor Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang in recognition of their tireless dedication to the needs of the poor, and their pioneering leadership in community-based health care. The Bangs, a passionately dedicated husband-and-wife team, have revolutionized healthcare for the most
poverty-stricken areas of India and the world. Dr. Abhay Bang accepted the award on the couple’s behalf (as Dr. Rani
Bang was unable to attend). Watch the Oration here:

Dr. Bang spoke on “The Challenge & Charm of Research with the People”, describing the inspirational work the couple has undertaken over the past 36 years (while living in the marginalized and vulnerable tribal district of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra). They have been devoted to learning from and working amongst the people, while developing a series of cost-effective, sustainable medical and public health programs. Through their non-profit organization, Society for Education, Action, and Research in Community Health (SEARCH), the Bangs have conducted world-class research on practical approaches to reducing mortality of young children in Adivasi communities. Their Home-Based Newborn and Child Care (HBNC) model has ignited worldwide interest in the prevention of neonatal deaths in high-mortality, resource-constrained settings. The HBNC model has been nationally and internationally recognized and is implemented globally, helping to save the lives of millions of vulnerable newborns and children yearly.

After receiving their MPH degrees in 1984, the Bangs founded SEARCH, which was their initial step in the development of partnerships with community leaders to promote health and development, and to create ‘tribalfriendly’ clinics as well as a hospital. In addition to tackling infant mortality and neonatal care, the Bangs worked to address other areas of concern for rural communities, such as women’s reproductive health and alcohol addiction in men. Their work in these areas have also significantly impacted the lives of the local communities, while influencing national and international policies.

The SEARCH for people’s health continues in Gadchiroli, and Dr. Bang invited students, faculty, and other medical specialist to consider going where the need is greatest. In his closing remarks, Dr. Bang impressed upon the audience that, “You are needed in Gadchiroli, and there are several Gadchirolis in India. You are needed there. Join their search.”

Today, Abhay and Rani are focused on developing models for chronic disease care for rural populations. They are also working to develop a new generation of leaders to carry the organization forward. The Bangs have started initiatives like Nirman and ‘Living University’ for young changemakers, exposing youth to the real challenges of rural and Adivasi communities and inspiring them to find sustainable solutions to health problems with the participatory approaches adopted by SEARCH.

To watch the full 2022 Ida S. Scudder Humanitarian Oration, please visit: https://vellorecmc.org/oration/

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