Book tracing city’s journey through epidemics | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Book tracing city’s journey through epidemics

Much like the sudden anti-tuberculosis activity in the city after the recent discovery of extreme drug resistant tuberculosis, in 1912, public-spirited citizens of Bombay formed an Anti-Tuberculosis League. Menaka Rao reports.

mumbai Updated: Mar 19, 2012 01:03 IST
Menaka Rao

Much like the sudden anti-tuberculosis activity in the city after the recent discovery of extreme drug resistant tuberculosis, in 1912, public-spirited citizens of Bombay formed an Anti-Tuberculosis League. Funded by the Tatas, the league started no-spitting campaigns with posters in Marathi put up across the city educating people to keep their homes clean.


According to a new book, Health Care in Bombay Presidency 1896-1930, by Mridula Ramanna, a former history teacher at SIES College, Sion, those spearheading the campaign included John Andrew Turner, health officer of Mumbai from 1901-1919 after whom a road in Bandra is named. The book speaks about the health scenario in Maharashtra, Sindh, Gujarat and parts of Karnataka between 1896 and 1930.

The book was released on Friday at the Asiatic Society of Mumbai Literary Club by Dr Sunil Pandya, neurosurgeon, Jaslok Hospital and Dr Jehangir Sorabjee, senior physician, Bombay Hospital.

The book covers the recurring bubonic plague epidemic between 1896 and 1920 in the region, when British officers resorted to “intrusive and extreme measures” to prevent the spread of the disease. “Infection control measures at the time caused alienation of the public. Health officials would look at swellings in the groin and armpits of men and women, hurting many sensibilities. We have learned we can’t take such measures without taking the public into confidence. However, poor hygiene and overcrowding are still a problem,” said Dr Pandya.

“What struck me was how philanthropists contributed to the city’s health care. All major colleges such as KEM, BYL Nair were built with their contributions,” said Dr Sorabjee.