Carry on curing: Pune’s 102-year-old doctor works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week
On March 15, 2017, Dr Balwant Ghatpande became one of the oldest practising doctors in India, celebrating his 102nd birthday. He works 10 hours a day every day of the week and charges his patients just Rs 30 per visit
On March 15, 2017, Dr Balwant Ghatpande became one of the oldest practising doctors in Pune, celebrating his 102nd birthday. Nurturing a true passion for science amidst a drastically changing landscape of medicine, Ghatpande, with his traditional allopathic knowledge, continues to treat patients in Pune.
“I would never retire,” he says, when asked about his work. “Until my death I wish to continue to practice medicine. I pray that I should die while working in the dispensary.”
His entire family is filled with doctors imbibing the same values.
“Being a doctor is one the most noble professions, where you can do the highest service to people. It gives humanitarian satisfaction, as well financial security. I have received everything from this profession, from reputation to money and the goodwill of people.”
The next generations hold a very high opinion about Dr Ghatpande’s work ethic. “He has no other interest except his practice, that is his passion,” says his son Sawanand Ghatpande.
His grandson, Chaitanya Ghatpande, who is also a doctor, calls his grandfather a workoholic.
“Yes I am a workaholic and a proud one. I work over 10 hours a day and that also every day of the week.
“I don’t like to sit idle at all,” he says. When he is not working, Dr Ghatpande is either engrossed in his medical journals or reading newspapers.
His daily life entails a strict routine whereby after waking up in the morning, he exercises for an hour and then sits to read newspapers. Quoting it to be a secret of his unblemished health, he shares that for the last many years he has been taking a cold water bath only.
Except a fracture that he recalls having in 1995, Dr Ghatpande claims to have never visited another doctor for any sort of illness. The secret is his healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a moderate diet.
Ghatpande, having begun his career in 1941, shares his knowledge about the changing dynamics of diseases. “ A decade ago there use to be epidemics of cholera, influenza, dysentery, but now that has gone down, especially because of improved hygiene conditions. Diseases like dengue and malaria have increased. Diseases of the modern world are very different from the old times, especially because of food quality and food habits now,” says Dr Ghatpande.
About the current situation of medicine in India, he says, “Everybody wants a specialist. Only after consulting a specialist will they come and visit a general practitioner now. Also, the old medicines are almost gone, so the new doctors don’t really come to me for advice. I don’t use these new medicines.”
With a meagre amount of Rs 30 per patient, he donates most of his earnings to charity, his son says.
Rajpathak Ghanasham, a loyal patient who has been going to the dispensary for the last 35 years, says, “ I trust him 101 % as a doctor. The unique thing about him is that he works on symptomatic treatment, where he manually checks the patients unlike today’s doctors. Also, he hardly charges anything.”