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Shri Dhirubhai Mehta (1936-2024): KHS condoles the death of its President

Shri Dhirubhai Mehta (1936-2024): KHS condoles the death of its President

With heavy hearts, the Kasturba Health Society announces the passing of Shri Dhirubhai Mehta, President of the Kasturba Health Society, Sevagram. Born in 1936, he rose from humble beginnings, excelling in academia and finance before dedicating his life to philanthropy and healthcare. A staunch follower of Gandhi's principles, he transitioned from a successful corporate career to leading the not-for-profit sector.

In 1982, Mrs Sarla Parekh introduced Shri Dhirubhai to Dr. Nayar, recommending his financial acumen for the medical school. Dhirubhai eagerly joined the Kasturba Health Society and later became its president. "When I came to Sevagram in 1982, I couldn't even spell or pronounce names of half the departments of the hospital," Dhirubhai would often jokingly say. Under his guidance, the medical college flourished, embodying integrity and excellence. The budget grew substantially from a meager 80 lakhs to 240 crores per annum, with a focus on ethical practices and excellence in healthcare.

Neither the commercialization of medical education, nor the proliferation of medical schools in the country, nor the expansion of private for-profit hospitals in the vicinity of Sevagram could deter him or lead him astray from his principles. Dhirubhai adhered to organizational ethics to the hilt—ensuring fairness, honesty, transparency, efficiency, and displaying zero tolerance for corruption. “All I want is for MGIMS to provide top-notch education and healthcare that's accessible to all," he would summarize his philosophy in a straightforward statement.

Under his leadership, MGIMS completely unlinked itself from the sponsorship of the drug industry, successfully ran a low-cost drug initiative in the hospital, and introduced various essential initiatives. These included a hospital information system, a unit for adopting newborns of unwed mothers, trauma centers, medicine department buildings, ICUs, a Cath Lab, dialysis units, alcohol and drug de-addiction centers, a mother and child center, and a palliative care center. He also oversaw the construction of numerous hostels for medical students and residents. He also supported the  Melghat hospital, encouraging staff dedication through personal visits and support. Dhirubhai's passion for public health was evident in his nurturing of the community medicine department, where he encouraged innovation and supported the implementation of new ideas and concepts. He fearlessly championed social causes, opposiing injustice and advocating for ethical governance.

“I love to take risks in life. And my intuitions and risk-taking ability have paid off, most of the time," he would say. Dhirubhai Mehta's willingness to embrace risks reflected his confidence and adventurous spirit, leading to many successful endeavors throughout his life. He was an avid reader, immersing himself in literature in both English and Gujarati. He eagerly devoured whatever material he could get his hands on. In February 2016, he authored a 551-page book “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel- A Man of Few Words and Many Triumphs”. He also wrote hundreds of articles expressing his views on different matters of national and social importance. His articles always carried his frank viewpoint on many political decisions and developments of many successive governments.

Sevagram held a special place in Dhirubhai’s heart and soul. Just a fortnight before, he had visited Sevagram and actively participated in the inaugration of several new facilities across the hospital. His wife Nanda often remarked that he lived and breathed Sevagram every day of his life. In the final stage of his life, nothing mattered to him more than Sevagram. He dedicated his thoughts and efforts to preserving the tradition and culture of the institute he had been associated with for four decades. “In our quest for greatness, Sevagram must not stop working hard. Let's come together to embrace new ideas, use technology, and build more facilities to make sure everyone in our community can access healthcare," he would passionately advocate, repeating his vision, year after year.

On Saturday, Dhirubhai was admitted to Bombay Hospital for what was presumed to be viral pneumonia. Forty-eight hours later, today, on April 22, he passed away peacefully, with his son Nirad and daughter Maitry by his bedside. Dhirubhai dedicated four decades of his life to Sevagram, tirelessly striving to ensure that the institute maintained its position at the forefront of healthcare in the country. Despite personal challenges, his unwavering commitment to Sevagram never faltered. He remained steadfast in his principles, refusing to compromise despite the temptations of privatization and profit-driven medical practices. His commitment and integrity set a standard that will be challenging to match.

As we bid farewell to a remarkable person, we are reminded of the immense impact he had on Sevagram and the countless lives he touched through his selfless service and unwavering dedication. His departure marks the end of an era for Sevagram, yet his legacy will continue to inspire and guide us in the years to come. Dhirubhai leaves behind a legacy of selflessness and integrity, inspiring generations to come.

“Shri Dhirubhai's legacy will forever remain ingrained in the fabric of our institute, guiding us with his principles of integrity, dedication, and compassion. His absence leaves a void that can never be filled, but his spirit will continue to inspire us as we carry forward his noble vision for the betterment of our community and beyond," said Shri PL Tapadia (Vice-President, Kasturba Health Society)."

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Last Modified: Friday 17 May 2024.

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