Melghat heroes and doctor couple, Dr Ravindra Kolhe and Dr Smita Kolhe, were amongst the eminent personalities who were decorated with the Padma Shri awards this year. The couple has worked tirelessly in transforming the lives of the people in the Melghat village.
Dr Kolhe and his wife’s contribution to the village date back since 30-35 years. The duo not only bettered the health outcomes in the village but also helped in getting access to basics such as electricity, roads and Primary Health Centres (PHCs). Their noteworthy work is of common knowledge in the Vidarbha region and medical fraternity. The couple has been conferred with many awards for the remarkable role in making Melghat what it is today.
While speaking to a medical daily, Dr Ravindra Kolhe, said, “People died due to pneumonia because they didn’t have enough clothes to keep them warm in winter. They died of malnutrition because they had no work and hence no money once the farming season was over. We wanted to ‘cure’ these root causes of death.”
Dr. Kolhe drew his inspiration from the books of Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave. After he completed his MBBS degree from the Government Medical College (GMC), Nagpur, he decided he would utilize his education, knowledge and skills for the ones who were in dire need. He was posed with the question of where he should begin his journey of welfare from. It was David Werner’s book ‘Where There is No Doctor’ that got him his answer, for the cover of the book had – “Hospital 30 miles away” –written on it. It was then that he chose Bairagarh, a small village in Melghat of Maharashtra for his work.
He added, “I decided to work in this remote area as there were no proper roads leading to the village. We have to walk around 40 km to reach Bairagarh village itself.”
Dr. Kolhe started out by charging on Re. 1 as fees for his consultation. This money was not him to be earned but to buy the medicines needed by the villagers. Affordable healthcare has been the primary focus of Dr. Kolhe which was later shared by his wife when they got married. Together they improved the life expectancy of the people there and brought the mortality rate down to 60 per 1,000.
President Ramnath Kovind conferred the prestigious Padma Awards on fifty-six prominent personalities in New Delhi. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other noted persons was also present for the event which was held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Approximately 50,000 nominations were received for the honours, of which 112 personalities were named for the awards in January. On Monday, 56 persons received the award.
Title image source: mymedicalmantra