Abstract

I am, indeed, very pleased to be at the Regional Conference on Public Health in South-East Asia in the Twenty-first century; the South-East Regional Office of WHO needs to be congratulated. The old adage, "Prevention is better than the cure," is observed more in the teachings than in the practice of our daily lives, and nowhere is that more pronounced than in health-related matters. A large number of the communicable and non-communicable diseases that we have in the developing world are essentially the result of the neglect of public health. Both government and society should assume this responsibility equally.

When the country became independent, a number of important issues, such as the eradication of smallpox and malaria and the initiation of the BCG vaccine program, were initiated as a truly committed national effort. We have been able to eradicate smallpox and achieve some success in the eradication of malaria. The 1960s and the 1970s were eras of a gradual shift of emphasis from preventive care to specialized tertiary care, which was capital-intensive, and urban-oriented. [To view this article, please download the PDF.]