Feature Elections 2014

Who is India’s new health minister?

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3854 (Published 10 June 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3854
  1. Patralekha Chatterjee, journalist
  1. 1New Delhi
  1. patralekha.chatterjee{at}gmail.com

As Harsh Vardhan, a seasoned politician and a surgeon, settles into his new job, Patralekha Chatterjee asks whether a medical doctor makes a good health minister

India has had several medical professionals who went on to occupy the top job in the union health ministry. Sushila Nayyar, a two term health minister in the mid 20th century, left an illustrious legacy. A close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, she is credited with having initiated many of India’s core health programmes, including the treatment and control of malaria, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, and leprosy. And Chandreshwar Prasad Thakur is known for his commendable work on visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar). But another former health minister and medical doctor, Anbumani Ramadoss, who helped kickstart India’s National Rural Health Mission, is currently facing corruption charges, though he ran again in the recent general election and coasted to victory.1

The newest incumbent, Harsh Vardhan, 59, is an ear, nose, and throat surgeon who has for decades campaigned passionately on public health issues. He has led antitobacco campaigns and pioneered grassroots interventions to eradicate polio at a time when …

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