Call to focus on social determinants of health

Social development a prerequisite for good health’

Governments need to invest in a lot more than just hospitals, drugs and technology to achieve good health for its population, former Chief Secretary S.M. Vijayanand has said.

Good health is the product of social development and more attention should be paid to address the social determinants of health — safe drinking water, sanitation, environmental hygiene, proper waste management, safe and healthy food, education and the like — to achieve a sustainable model of health, Mr. Vijayanand said while delivering the C.R. Soman Memorial Oration on Health and Development here on Friday.

“The good health that the West gained by taking care of the basic social needs of the community, we are trying to buy through expensive antibiotics,” he said.

He said that his experience of Panchayati Raj and decentralised planning had made it very evident for him that good health was ushered in only when the social development indicators were taken care of.

In fact, if social development was a prerequisite for good health, good health could in turn augment development by improving productivity, skill development, and better employment generation, Mr. Vijayanand said.

Health of tribals

Mr. Vijayanand said that for all the success of the Kerala Model of Health, it totally failed to take care of the health of the marginalised population, especially the tribal folk.

There had been little organised community efforts to bring the issue of tribals’ health on the agenda of successive governments, he said. The oration was held at the MCH alongside the National Conference on Students’ Medical Research, organised by the Department of Community Medicine.

The conference was inaugurated by Health Minister K. K. Shylaja. Vice Chancellor of Kerala University of Health Sciences M.K.C. Nair and Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Sadanandan spoke


The C.R. Soman award for the best postgraduate research thesis in a medical college in Kerala, instituted by Health Action by People (HAP), a not-for-profit public health NGO founded by Dr. Soman, was awarded to Navya J. Thycattil of the Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur. The award carries a cash prize of ₹25,000 and a citation.

The award for the best clinical research, instituted in the name of Ramdas Pisharody, the late Principal of MCH, was awarded to Priya Srinivasan, Assistant Professor of Paediatrics, MCH, Thiruvananthapuram.