Breathing new life at the K J Somaiya Health Centre at the Girivanvasi Pragati Mandal near Dahanu


12th March 2024

Dear Friends,

In the Mahabharata, the Yaksha had asked Yudhisthtir,

लाभानामुत्तमं किंस्यात्  सुखानां स्यात्किमुत्तमम्  ।।५४।।
What was the best of all gains.  What is the greatest among all kinds of happiness?

Yudhisthtir answered 

लाभानां श्रेय आरोग्यं सुखानां तुष्टिरुत्तमा ।।५५।।

Health is the greatest of all gains.  And Contentment is the greatest among all kinds of happiness.

Being free of disease is a blessing that many of us take for granted.  

Somaiya Ayurvihar was formed with the dream of providing healthcare.  The name Vidyavihar was coined as 'A refuge for Education'.  Ayurvihar.  'A refuge for health'.  

In the past few months, we have embarked on a few initiatives to take this forward.  But before getting there, I would like to put this effort in context.

In the 1970s, our Founder. Shri K. J. Somaiya had created the Girivanvasi Pragati Mandal.  His dream was that all communities 'left out' should be brought to the mainstream of society.  To do this, he would take Doctors and Nurses from Mumbai and with them, staff and students from the Somaiya Colleges to various tribal parts of India such as Bagidora in Rajasthan, Shamraji also in Rajasthan, Surgana in Maharashtra, Kukma in Kutch to name a few.  Reputed Doctors like Dr. B. N. Purandare, Dr. S. M. Merchant and many others.from Mumbai and other parts of India would join him in providing this service to society.  

The picture below is from 1976, in Bagidora which I attended as an 11 year old, where my task was to take medicines from the stores to the wards as needed.  

While he took camps to different parts of the country, he also decided to create a permanent 'boots on the ground at Nareshwadi', near Dahanu in Maharashtra where the Varli community resides.  He believed that a place where livelihoods (through farming and animal husbandry), education (through a school), and healthcare (through a hospital) would be needed to help holistically develop the area.

The picture from the 1970s below shows K J Somaiya and Sakarbai Somaiya at the Foundation laying ceremony of the hospital in Nareshwadi

With the passage of time, the school grew, but the inpatient hospital, wound down but continued as an outpatient Ayurvedic clinic.  Dr. Telange has given great service to the community by keeping this facility alive and useful as an Ayurvedic OPD.

A few months ago, Dr. Rahul Shinde from the Department of Dentistry from K J Somaiya Hospital and Research Centre (Mumbai) approached me and asked whether he could start a Dental Outpatient Service there.  We would start this once a week, but that would provide much relief to the community there, who had very little access to good quality dental treatment.  Encouraged by his enthusiasm, we created the facility.

And so the dental treatment has started every Wednesday.
Encouraged by this, Dr.Mamta Dhayal from Dermatology asked me whether we could start a skin OPD,   And now that has started, also on Wednesdays.

Over 450 patients have now been treated at this hospital in the last few months.

Once again, encouraged by this, the Departments of Paediatrics, Ophthalmology and Gynaecology have shown interest and these departments will also spring to life at this hospital.

A beautiful शेर - 

मैं अकेला ही चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर 

लोग साथ आते गए और कारवाँ बनता गया 

मजरूह सुल्तानपुरी 

This is to all of you, the staff, the nurses and of course the Doctors who are breathing new life at the hospital at the Girivanvasi Pragati Mandal at Nareshwadi.  

Our founder, Shri K. J. Somaiya and Smt. Sakarbai Somaiya would be very happy wherever they are.  

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