T.R. Chandrashekar, Dean and Head of Kannada University, Hampi, said on Saturday that providing facilities to the people was not a charity.

Speaking at the “Janata Samavesh” organised by the Bellary Nagarika Horata Samiti, in association with Medical Service Centres at the Gandhi Bhavan here, Dr. Chandrashekar said that development could be measured by the extent of health, education, food security, infrastructure facilities provided to the people and not merely going by the huge capital investments, setting up of industries and the like.

Expressing grave concern over the recent death of 35 people at Bhuvanahalli, Gadiganur and surrounding villages in the district due to malaria, dengue and other diseases, Dr. Chandrashekar said that these deaths could have been prevented if proper measures, including maintenance of cleanliness and hygiene, had been taken by the authorities concerned.

“Malaria and dengue are definitely not killer-diseases but were preventable and curable. It is very unfortunate that the health, nutrition and other related aspects have been completely neglected,” he said. Stating that public health and development were directly related, Dr. Chandrashekar said that the infant mortality rate in the country was on the higher side and there were a mere 2.36 primary health centres for every lakh population, while investments had gone up enormously in the past 20 years, leading to increase in per capita income.

But the peoples' condition remained unchanged in Bellary district.

Dr. Chandrashekar said that it was the primary responsibility of the Government to initiate all necessary steps to improve the living condition of the people by providing health, nutrition and food security, which had been ignored, he alleged. He underlined the need for people to raise their voice and organise movements to get their rights.

Arvind Patel, a surgeon, said that health and education were the rights of the people but they were being kept away through commercialisation. Shortage of staff and medicines at government hospitals and lack of other facilities were major issues. “The Governmenthad ignored to strengthen and develop the government hospitals,” he said and added that the health insurance scheme would only benefit the private sector.