Despite traversing a successful political journey, Ranjeet Ranjan, MP from Supaul, has managed to keep her feet on the ground and stay humble. Her life’s mission is to create a better world for her fellow countrymen by ensuring basic facilities for health, education and socio-economic development.
By Team Double Helical
Well-known as a very soft-spoken, visionary political leader who has dedicated her life to provide free health services to the poor and the needy, Ranjeet Ranjan is presently a Member of Parliament from Supaul (Bihar) from the Congress party. She is married to politician Rajesh Ranjan popularly known as Pappu Yadav, a Member of Parliament from Madhepura, also a founder and leader of Jan Adhikar Party.
According to Ranjeet Ranjan, the NDA government has not been running effective health programmes and policies and their implementation is so abysmal that even the poorest of the people are forced to seek out the nearest private doctor or quack rather than rely on government medical facilities.
With the support of her husband Pappu Yadav, she takes care of scores of patients and their families who avail free health services at her residence located at 11-A, Balwant Roy Mehta, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, which has been converted into a ‘Sevashram’. She says that the poor who come from Bihar, are unable to avail treatment even at well-reputed governments like AIIMS, RML, Safdarjung Hospital, etc. But we take care of such helpless people by providing them free boarding and lodging facilities at our residence. If we don’t do it, they will not be able to survive in Delhi. In ‘Sevashram,’ patients come from all over the country.
Born on 7 January 1974 in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh, Ranjan was brought up in Jammu, studied in Punjab and settled in Delhi. Her ancestors were Kashmiri Pandits turned Sikhs. In the 14th Lok Sabha, she won and became one of the youngest MPs of Saharsa in North Bihar. Ranjeet Ranjan also called as Ranjeeta Ranjan, was an active lawn tennis player in the Bihar circuit, when Pappu Yadav noticed her on the tennis courts in Patna in 1993. He proposed and married her.
Ranjeet Ranjan said, “Today private healthcare is flourishing in both rural and urban areas. In Bihar, about 80 per cent of the health expenditure is directly borne by households. The main reason for the high dependence on the private sector in Bihar is inadequate public facilities – in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Not a single community health centre in Bihar meets the guidelines of the Indian Public Health Standards. None of the centres in the state has all the specialists like gynaecology, anaesthesia, and paediatrics.”
Expressing concern over the rising incidence of sexual abuse of girls/women in India, Ranjeet Ranjan says that the safety of the every minor and major girl must be ensured. “But these days protecting the honour of girls/ women has become a challenge”, she rues.
According to Ranjeet Ranjan, the obstacles faced by healthcare providers and patients in rural areas are vastly different than those in urban areas. Economic factors, cultural and social differences, educational shortcomings, lack of recognition by legislators and the sheer isolation of living in remote areas all conspire to create health care disparities and impede rural Indians in their struggle to lead normal, healthy lives.
Rural healthcare is one of biggest challenges facing our country. With more than 70 percent population living in rural areas and low level of health facilities, mortality rates due to diseases are on a high. Considering these grim facts, there is a dire need of new practices and procedures to ensure that quality and timely healthcare reaches the deprived corners of the Indian villages. Though a lot of policies and programmes are being run by the Government but the success and effectiveness of these programmes is questionable due to gaps in the implementation. In rural India, where the number of primary health care centers (PHCs) is limited, 8% of the centres do not have doctors or medical staff, 39% do not have lab technicians and 18% PHCs do not even have a pharmacist. India also accounts for the largest number of maternity deaths. A majority of these are in rural areas where maternal healthcare is poor. Even in private sector, health care is often confined to family planning and antenatal care and do not extend to more critical services like labour and delivery, where proper medical care can save life in the case of complications.
To fulfill mission “Health for All,” it is necessary to increase public spending on health from 1.3% to 2-3% of GDP, with the improved arrangement for community financing and risk pooling. Elaborating further, Ranjeet Ranjan, said, “Healthcare is the right of every individual but lack of quality infrastructure, dearth of qualified medical functionaries, and non-access to basic medicines and medical facilities thwarts its reach to 60% of population in India. To control the spread of diseases and reduce the growing rates of mortality due to lack of adequate health facilities, special attention needs to be given to the healthcare in rural areas.”
To her, the key challenges in the healthcare sector are low quality of care, poor accountability, lack of awareness, and limited access to facilities. People from different districts of Bihar like Supaul, Madhepura, Purnia, Saharsa and even capital city Patna have very bitter experience in availing healthcare facilities, such as pathetic health facilities available at primary health centres, laboratory testing and delivery facilities at government health centres.
How does she keep herself fit and healthy?
When asked about the secret of her good health despite her hectic schedule as a public figure, MP Ranjeet Ranjan said, “Staying fit and healthy is one of the top priorities for me so that I can continue to serve the people with tireless zeal and commitment. But there are still some of us that struggle to keep ourselves in the pink of health. It can be hard to find the time to exercise regularly if you have a busy schedule and always tons of things to do on a daily basis, but finding some time during your day can help you reap the rewards in terms of future health benefits. Small changes can contribute to a better lifestyle and taking it one day at a time will soon start to encourage better habits and long-term goals being met with ease.”
What would she like to advise people to enjoy the bliss of good health? “Always be physically active and eat well. Make it a point to eat nutritious food and fruits because it has tons of health benefits including improving your heart and lung function, helping you lose weight and clearing your mind of negative thoughts. Instead, focus on being healthy from the inside out, and exercise regularly. Moving more doesn’t have to include running a marathon either, as gentle exercise is also beneficial in promoting a healthier lifestyle. Being active for approximately thirty minutes a day is recommended to get the most benefits. This could be a stroll around your local area on your lunch break or joining a fitness class such as yoga, dance, circuits and local sporting activities,” says the MP from Supaul with a winning smile on her face.