Mr. S S Nair
former Senior Statistical Officer
I was the Statistical Officer for the Mass BCG
Campaign and so I knew Dr PV Benjamin from that time. He was the
TB Adviser. He was a great visionary. He would adapt himself to
new situations and take action to bring about the desired change.
Dr Benjamin persuaded the Ministry of Health and ICMR, got the funds
and initiated the NSS. This data revealed that TB is prevalent both
in urban and rural areas contrary to the belief held that TB is
urban oriented. At that time TB work was concentrated mostly in
urban areas where the approach was clinical. What about the rural
areas? It cannot be left neglected. So, Dr Benjamin persuaded the
government to establish the NTI to solve this particular problem.
I was the Sr Statistical Officer at the NTI between
1962 1977. The work done at NTI was good because the staff
was dedicated. There was a multi-disciplinary approach. So many
ideas would be floated and the tangible ones were taken seriously.
Much thinking and hard work went into each paper which is why NTI
got international recognition. Such a good institution should have
grown positively. But this did not occur due to the bureaucratic
approach from Delhi. While the DGHS ran the administration and told
the NTI what to do, they would not accept any feedback from the
NTI. They only gave instructions.
The administrative set up was detrimental to the
growth of the NTI. NTI Director, Dr Nagpaul, was an administrator,
a researcher and a trainer and could understand the complex needs
of the NTI. We were way ahead of our times in thinking and in our
research. For e.g., NTP was integrated to GHS - a new thought for
that time (1962). We already knew that GHS system is not very good.
We wanted to conduct research on GHS in the early seventies to improve
its services. Dr Nagpaul wrote to Delhi. But we were told to restrict
our activities to TB. This idea of Health Services Research was
finally adopted in 1985.
I will tell you another example of NTI looking
far ahead of time. You do sputum examination for all chest symptomatics.
If you examine ten, you have one positive for whom you plan to take
action. What about the nine others for whom you dont have
any plans? They are suffering. They have come to you. So, in early
seventies we wanted to change the name of NTI to National Tuberculosis
and Chest Diseases Institute so that we could deal with all the
health problems which the chest symptomatics face. The DGHS did
not agree to this idea at all.
When I came to NTI in 1962, the atmosphere was
so good and we were able to do substantial work. In 1969 I was offered
promotion and transfer to Calcutta. But, I didnt go because
it was so interesting to work at NTI. But in 1976, I was offered
the same promotion and went to Delhi willingly because the atmosphere
had deteriorated. Most of our failures are systems failures. Our
system is rigid. There is no encouragement for new thinking and