B is for Abhay Bang And Rani Bang: Improving Health Care In India

Abhay and Rani aim to empower individuals and communities to take care of their own health. They created SEARCH in 1985. This stands for the Society for Education, Action and Research in Communities.

Below are excerpts from their profiles at the time of them becoming Ashoka Fellows. You can discover more via the following links to the Ashoka and SEARCH websites.



The Problem

Although average life expectancy has grown dramatically since independence, India’s public health and medical care system remains deeply flawed.

Most Indians suffer to some degree, but the poor suffer unnecessarily. For example, pneumonia kills roughly 600,000 children under five each year in India.

In theory, ill children go to the hospital for treatment, but, as the child mortality statistics demonstrate, hospital care is rarely received.

The Bangs are developing methods for village level health workers, both modern and traditional, to diagnose and treat common illnesses in the village.

Here is an image from the SEARCH website.


Go to the people

The Strategy

The Bangs founded SEARCH, the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health, in order to increase the effectiveness of India’s health care system.

The Bangs operate independently of the government and at the same time through and with it all levels.

They did not create a parallel private system, the usual and much less risky approach taken by most health organizations.

Instead, they seek to find practical ways, with the Gadchiroli government workers, to show how the country’s only mass scale delivery system might do far better in reaching those it should.

At the national level, the Bangs work to influence health policies through problem identification, field research, and demonstration of innovative problem solving approaches.

Here is an image from the SEARCH website.




Drs. Abhay and Rani Bang worked for years to find a way to bring better health to everyone, especially the poor.

Abhay Bang grew up in the Ghandian movement, including early work with Vinoba Bhave. Rani Bang comes from a family with strong commitment both to medical service and, in her grandparents’ generation, to public service.

Both have placed first in prestigious national medical competitions, and they helped organize and lead a national group of medical professionals concerned with health-care quality and delivery.

Both spent years providing health services in the Wardhal area of Central India, helping rural people take charge of their lives by working on issues ranging from grain banks to minimum wage.

After receiving their Masters Degrees in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University in 1984, the Bangs returned to India and organized SEARCH.

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