Overview for National Atlas of India (Volume IX): Health & Diseases
Health and Diseases: The concept of health care and treatment of diseases have undergone a sea change over the past decades. Within shifts in social set up and rise in the number of nuclear families, the earlier notion of the doctor next door has also changed. People often are in a fix while looking for treatment of a particular disease. The nature of treatment and facilities available thereupon in India is required to be depicted to facilitate significantly large proportion of population suffering from diseases. We have to make the people, particularly those who live in the rural areas, aware about the status of health related issues, so that they make use of much facilities. At this point, the role of National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization, a pioneer thematic mapping organization of the country, functioning under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, cannot be overlooked. The organization felt it necessary to take up the challenge to prepare a Health Disease Atlas of India and completed it within the scheduled target. If we look back, we could see that there was only one Atlas on the related subject entitled "Health Atlas of India" (1962) published by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, containing 32 plates. However, it was meant for departmental use only. NATMO also endeavoured in this direction and prepared its first ever health map of India, entitled "India: Health" (plate 236) in 1972 containing three maps - one plate on 1:6 million scale and and two insects on 1:18 million showing: number of beds in hospitals (town-wise), number of persons per hospital bed (district-wise) -- 1963 and 1964, number of hospital beds, registered doctors and nurses (state-wise) - 1964. The second map in this series was on "India: Diseases" (plate 225) prepared in 1972 where four maps were depicted in one sheet on 1:12 million scale each showing one disease, namely: Cholera (incidence and death per 10,000 population (district wise), Tuberculosis (number of hospital beds), Leprosy (prevalence rate in percent 1974-75 and district-wise number of beds), cancer (death rate per 1,000 population). The third map entitled, "India: Mortality and Communicable Diseases" was published after a long gap in 1991 on the occasion of the International Seminar on Health Care Planning in Developing World, organized by Department of Geography, Calcutta University -- which is included in this Atlas, i.e. Distribution of Diseases. "India: Health" (1:6M) shows population per hospital bed (district-wise) in the main map with one inset map on 1:18m scale showing state-wise ratio between doctors and population and a bar-graph showing population per hospital bed in different states and union territories. NATMO has chosen the important themes like mortality, communicable diseases and medical institutions, air and water pollution and health services etc. within the frame of this Atlas.
G.N. Saha (Editor)
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