Abhay Bang

Abhay Bang (Marathi: अभय बंग), and Rani Bang (Marathi: राणी बंग) are Indian social activists, researchers working on community health in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. They have revolutionized healthcare for the poorest people in India and have overseen a programme that has substantially reduced infant mortality rates in one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the world. The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have recently endorsed their approach to treating newborn babies and the programme is currently being rolled out to parts of Africa.[1] They have founded SEARCH[2] (Society For Education, Action and Research In Community Health) - a non-profit organization in Gadchiroli, which is involved in rural health service and research. Bang couple is winner of prestigious Maharashtra Bhushan award. They have many publications in The Lancet, which is the second highest impact factor medical journal.

Personal life and background

Dr. Abhay Bang was born at Wardha in 1950 to Thakurdas Bang and Suman Bang who are followers of the Sarvodaya movement inspired by Gandhian thoughts. He spent his childhood in Gandhi’s Sevagram Ashram at Wardha with Mahatma Gandhi’s foremost disciple Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Until standard ninth he studied in a school which followed the tenets of Nai Taleem (Basic Education) as enunciated (to state definitely) by Gandhiji.[3]

Mr. Thakurdas bang, a young economist, went to Mahatma Gandhi to seek his blessings while he was about to go to US to do his doctoral studies. Mahatma looked at him for few seconds and said - "Young man, if you want to study economics, go to the villages of India"[4] Mr. Thakurdas cancelled his plans to go to US and remained in India to study Economics of Indian villages.

When Abhay was 13 year old, he discussed about "what to do with life" with his elder brother who was 16 year old at that time. The elder brother Mr. Ashok Bang decided to work for issues related to farming and Abhay decided to work for health of villagers.[1][5]

Rani Bang formerly Rani Chari was born in Chandrapur. Abhay and Rani completed their graduation and post graduation in medical studies from Nagpur University.When he Dr. Abhay was studying for final year exam of MBBS at Nagpur, he read an incident about Gandhi where Gandhi was very careful regarding use of natural resources. After reading the incident Dr. Abhay decided to use resources carefully. He switched off the fan in his room. He though that he should be able to live without fan. He did not use the fan for next five years during his education even in the heat of Nagpur.[5] Abhay and Rani married in 1977. Both of them have secured MPH (Masters in Public Health) from Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Anand Bang is their elder son and Mr. Amrut Bang is their younger son.


Dr. Abhay and Rani bang have completed their MBBS from Government Medical College, Maharashtra. Dr. Abhay Bang has his MD in Medicine while Dr. Rani Bang has her MD in Gynecology. After their medical studies, the couple moved to Wardha and co-founded Chetna Vikas - a non-profit organization. While working in villages of Wardha district they realized the need for further studies in public health to address larger health-care issues. Both of them completed Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, America. The couple had decided to follow Gandhian principles and to work with the poor.[6]


Listening is one of the novel approaches Bang couple adopted while working in Gadchiroli.[6]


After returning to India they started working in Gadchiroli. They founded SEARCH in December 1985 and started working on community health problems in the tribal region. Their work can be classified in following domains.

Reduction in infant mortality rate

When the couple had just graduated in masters of public health from Johns Hopkins University in US started holding peoples heath assemblies where they found that addressing infant mortality is a pressing need. Dr. Bang found out a simple solution - training of the village women in neonatal care.[1]

Home Based Neonatal Care (HBNC) model developed by Dr. Bang has resulted in reduction in infant mortality in the study villages of Gadchiroli. India has incorporated this model in 12th national five year plan to reduce infant mortality in India. They identified & established the main causes for infant mortality in the region as pneumonia and devised a strategy of home-based neonatal care to combat it. The success of their efforts was published in 3 papers in the prestigious medical journal TheLancet. Together, they have 5 papers published in The Lancet. This research has been selected as a milestone paper to be included in the Vintage Lancet.[7]

Liquor ban in Gadchiroli district

Dr. Abhay and Rani bang were driving force for the movement of liquor ban in Gadchiroli district. Gadchiroli is the first district in Maharashtra where liquor is banned due to demand by Public. Dr. Bang made people of Gadchiroli aware about ill effects of alcohol, which led to demand from people to ban alcohol in Gadchiroli. Maharashtra government has come up with ban on alcohol in Gadchiroli.In 1990, the couple raised a movement for liquor ban in Gadchiroli district. The movement resulted in liquor ban in the district in year 1992, being the first example in India of liquor ban due to public demand. In May 2012, Dr. Abhay Bang was member of panel to study ban of Liquor in chandrapur district.[8]

Women's issues

Dr. Rani Bang, a Gynecologist is working on women's medical issues. She has written a book - 'Putting Woman First', which throws light on women issues in rural India. Their research shown that nearly 92 percent of women had some kind of gynecological issues.[6] Her research in this field has changed the understanding of this issue worldwide and some global policies has changed accordingly.


Rani Bang also works on health and gynecological problems of rural women. She conducts sessions on sex education for adolescent and teenagers.


Infant mortality rate has been reduced to 50 percent in the area Bangs operate in.[9]

Home Based Neonatal Care programme is adopted across India. It also got adopted by Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and parts of Africa.[6]

"(After publication in medical journal Lancet) Within a year or two, there was an entirely new approach to women's health worldwide. The global population policy changed from looking at mere reproduction to the whole issue of women's reproductive health. That was our first experience of how powerful this (listening to patients) approach could be."[6]


Please see the article of Nirman for details.

In 2006, they started an initiative - Nirman, for identifying and nurturing social change-makers in Maharashtra. Nirman includes a series of 4 camps separated by 6 months. So a batch of Nirman goes through 4 camps in a period of 2 years. A camp generally runs for 7–10 days at SEARCH, Gadchiroli. Nirman is a learning process based on Nayee Talim way of education introduced by Mahatma Gandhi. It believes in - problem based learning instead of - classroom based learning.


In an interview to a marathi channel, Dr. Abhay Bang enlisted his inspirations as - Gandhi (He says that Mahatma Gandhi has a great influence on his life), People (the collective wisdom of people) and science.

Publications in Lancet

Dr. Abhay and Rani Bang have several publications in one of the most prestigious medical journals - The Lancet. Few of them are as follows.


Here is a list of publications by Dr. Abhay and Rani Bang in different medical journals.

  1. Effect of home-based neonatal care and management of sepsis on neonatal mortality: field trial in rural India - Lancet
  2. Reduction in pneumonia mortality and total childhood mortality by means of community-based intervention trial in Gadchiroli, India - Lancet
  3. Diagnosis of causes of childhood deaths in developing countries by verbal autopsy: suggested criteria. The SEARCH Team. Bulletin of WHO
  4. Burden of Morbidities and the Unmet Need for Health Care in Rural Neonates - A Prospective Observational Study in Gadchiroli, India Indian Pediatrics

Thoughts about research

  • Whatever research SEARCH does, has to provide benefit to local population.[4]
  • Dr. Abhay Bang has received a national award from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)[7]

Authored books

Marathi books

  • माझा साक्षात्कारी हृदयरोग Majha Sakshtakari Hrudayrog - Abhay Bang (In this book Dr. Abhay Bang writes about his experiences during his heart disease and the learning he has gained due to it.)
  • गोईण (Goin) - Rani Bang
  • कानोसा (Kanosa) - Rani Bang

English Book

  • Putting Woman first - Dr. Rani Bang (It is published in 2010)

Awards and honors

Dr Abhay and Dr Rani Bang have been felicitated with a number of awards, a few of them as follows:


External links

  • Website of SEARCH
  • Website of NIRMAN - Contains many articles by Dr. Bang in the download section.
  • Bio data on the website of planning commission, a government website
  • Quotes by Dr. Abhay Bang
  • Research with the People - Article by Dr. Bang in Forbes India Magazine
  • Change the medication - Dr Abhay Bang says poor health care in Indian can pose a threat to India's growth - Article on the website of www.businesstoday.intoday.in

Video links

  • Interview (Great Bhet) on Marathi news channel IBN Lokmat
  • Interview for CORE group
  • Abhay Bang addressing youth of Maharashtra
  • Dr. Abhay Bang - MacArther award
  • Interview (The Unstoppable Indians with Dr Abhay Bang) on NDTV
  • Interview on Samwad
  • Abhay Bang and Rani Bang leading prayer
  • Interview with Dr. Abhay Bang
  • Speech at Pandharkawada Distt
  • Dr. Rani Bang Gadchiroli Experience
  • Dr. Abhay Bang reflects on Maternal & Newborn Child Health
  • Dr Bang on why community health workers are important
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