Dr. Regi George & Dr. Lalitha Regi

  • 2023
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Constructive Work

Dr. Regi George Born: December 13, 1958 Dr. Lalitha Regi Born: July 30, 1960

To attain self-reliance in health, the local tribal girls and women were trained to become health workers and auxiliaries who are playing a key role of community development facilitators. This was initiated by Dr. Regi George and Dr. Lalitha Regi who established the Tribal Health Initiative (THI) in 1992 in Sittilingi valley and started its first hospital-cum-patient unit from a small hut. The infant mortality in the area was a pathetic 147/1000 and many mothers died in childbirth. In the next 10 years, by training the local population to take care of themselves, they brought it down to 20/1000 and no mothers have died in childbirth for more than 15 years.

Gradually, the work expanded to deal with the determinants of health which included organic farming and community development. Thus, addressing the needs of the community and to bring in sustainable development of the tribal community of the region, they linked healthcare to economics, food and education. THI has been forming farmers groups in the villages and helping them in sustainable organic agriculture and marketing of the produce. The women groups now value adds to the local produce to get a better profit and sell under the brand name SVAD. In addition to this, the doctor couple have also helped revive tribal art in two villages with the Lambadi community (gypsies – now resettled), and to help make it profitable for the women to support themselves.

Owing to this long-standing intervention, tribes of the area are on the path to self-sufficiency, in line with Gandhian principles for sustainable development.