Pune: When destitute patients are taken back to their villages, it spreads awareness that mental illness can be treated, said Ramon Magsaysay award winner Dr Bharat Vatwani.
He was speaking during the felicitation programme organised by Poona Citizen-Doctor Forum (PCDF) in the city on Tuesday.
Dr Vatwani, who won the award for his work for the mentally ill street people, added that there has been a gradual change in the perception of people towards the mentally ill over the last 30 years. “Many people later accept they did a mistake by not understanding these mentally ill people. I hope with change in perception they accept mentally challenged destitutes too,” said Dr Vatwani. Media expert Anand Agashe and social worker Sharada Bapat interviewed Dr Vatwani on the occasion. Both Agashe and Bapat are members of PCDF.
Dr Vatwani said, “Hundred km from Hemalkasa we met a patient. The patient’s hand and legs were tied by chains and he refused to come with us. So we moved ahead, but after going 20 kms I realised I must go back. So we went back and put him in the car and got him to Hemalkasa.”
Dr Vatwani recalled how the Amte family helped a patient get treatment for the illness. “Baba Amte was upset over the fact how can a person be so insensitive to have kept a person in chains. That was the time Baba Amte asked me to take the work forward,” said Dr Vatwani.
“The police help female destitutes no matter what. They identify and bring these destitutes to the centre,” said Dr Vatwani, adding that men suffering with mental illness generally leave their home while women with mental illness get confined to homes.”
Dr Prakash Amte and Dr Mandakini Amte and health activists Dr Arun Gadre and Dr Anant Phadke were present. Dr Arun Gadre praised Dr Amte and Dr Vatwani. “The selfless dedication of these doctors is a living example of what a doctor’s knowledge can do to make the life of a patient better,” said Dr Gadre.
Dr Prakash Amte said good work never needs an award, nevertheless, because of the awards young people get inspiration and it motivates all. Similarly, awareness is raised spreading the right message across society.