Adieu Dr Govil!

The hands, which healed, bringing back thousands of kids to life from near death, are no more. The voice that inspired hope in the hopeless is silenced. We lost Professor (Dr) Yogesh C Govil, Professor of Paediatrics, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University, (erstwhile King George’s Medical College), Lucknow, to the cruel hands of fate. He, who was like God to many of his patients, was snatched away by God in a fatal car accident on Sunday, the 8th of January, 2012. An excellent and sensitive doctor, who touched many lives with his humility and gentleness, Dr Govil will be fondly and tearfully remembered by his colleagues and numerous patients who virtually idolized him. We at CNS are proud of our long association with Dr Govil. Despite his very busy schedule, he always found time to enlighten us about various childhood diseases.

Reproduced below are some of his golden words, as told to CNS, on a range of topics related to paediatric health:--

On the importance of mother’s milk---"Bottle feeds and formula milk certainly cannot be a replacement for breast milk, because no human endeavour can put those factors which the Almighty has done. They may be sufficient in terms of nutritive value to some extent, but there are many other benefits of mother’s milk which the formula food cannot meet. Maternal and infant bonding cannot be provided by these foods. A lot of research has ultimately proved that breast milk is the best milk. A child should be exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months, and then weaned away gradually by starting complementary food like cereals, mashed papaya, banana etc. As the child grows, all types of household diets must be added with some butter and ghee also, so that dense calories can be provided." 

On good nutrition--- “One cannot define nutrition in variant degrees-- if it is not good it will certainly be bad. Bad nutrition is such that either it leads the child to become overweight or underweight. Bad nutrition is one extreme for affluent families, where kids are fond of junk food, which overfill them with calories; and at the other extreme are families with poor socio-economic status who are forced to dilute milk and other food, which deprives them of the nutrient values."

On public awareness of childhood diseases---“The biggest intervention that can be done is education. No measure is better than awareness, and for that people need to be educated about the havoc which tobacco and fuel smoke can wreak on innocent infants and children, exposing them to several diseases, like pneumonia, and  related complications (which may even be fatal) for no fault of theirs.”

On the misuse of antibiotics---“Development of antibiotic resistance among common pathogens is a global concern. Unfortunately, nowadays a lot of antibiotic misuse is happening in our country and the reason is that many a times patients are been treated by unqualified practitioners of medicine, especially in rural areas. I think more than 20%-30% of patients initially go to unqualified practitioners, who are in the habit of advising lots of broad spectrum antibiotics in the beginning. Even in viral infections, where antibiotics are not usually indicated, antibiotics are prescribed. This is prevalent in the urban setup as well. Very often patients try to self medicate also, as antibiotics are easily available over the counter. This develops a resistance against normal (narrow spectrum) antibiotics, thus making them ineffective. Before the first wonder drug penicillin was discovered in the 1930s, men used to die like flies, and if this trend (overuse of antibiotics) continues that era would return.”

We at CNS join thousands others in paying homage to this departed soul. May we continue his legacy of dedication and selfless service to one and all, irrespective of social status, caste and creed.

Shobha Shukla - CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She is a J2J Fellow of National Press Foundation (NPF) USA. She has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP and taught physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. She also co-authored a book (translated in three languages) "Voices from the field on childhood pneumonia" and a report on Hepatitis C and HIV treatment access issues in 2011. Email:, website:

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  1. I was previleged to remain in the proximity of the late Dr. YC Govil for three years during my postgraduation at the department of Pediatrics, KGMC, Lucknow (year 2006-09). During those times I still remember, all my fellow senior, junior postgraduate students and senior residents were heavily influenced by his approach to disease diagnosis and his principles of patient management. Every single person in the department, including the faculty, respected him for his in-depth knowledge and the hold on the subject, and 'science of Pediatrics', particularly the sub-specilaity of pediatric critical care.
    Dr. Govil was a natural teacher. It always used to be a feast of ward rounds in his unit (The Formidable Wednesday Unit). He used to stress upon the vital skill of "thorough history-taking". He was never satisfied with the resident's history presentation. He always used to elicit history himself from none other than the child's mother and would bring out relevant but untold points in the history. His teaching material for postgraduate students consisted of thoroughly analytical and beautifully formatted Powerpoint slides which he used to prepare carefully considering various real-life case scenarios he came across in the institute.
    Dr.Govil was an hardcore academician, a highly skilled clinician, and a great teacher. Not only the medical students, he was keen in educating and training the PICU nursing staff for he knew the value of a skilled nurse in improving the quality of care in any ICU.

    He believed that pediatric ICUs are a "useful place to teach medical students - both undergraduates and postgraduates - about ethics, care of the dying, distributive justice and appropriateness." (Ref: Editorial by Dr. Govil, Indian Pediatr 2006; vol43:673-8)

    Dr. Govil's demise is a big loss not only for the KGMU department of pediatrics and the Lucknow city but for whole of the Indian pediatric community. I pay my humble tribute to a great teacher who excelled as an outstanding pediatrician, an intensivist and a scientist in the real sense.

    By: Dr.Prashanth GP
    Department of Pediatrics.
    JN Medical College. Belgaum
    Karnataka, India.

  2. Dear Shobha Shukla ji,
    Very aptly written about Dr. YC Govil. I do not have proper words to espress in a forceful way as you have. But I will suggest the medical fraternity to try and emulate all humanly & professional qualities which Dr. Govil had. This may be a very good way to remember him for life long.

    Dr. Ashok Sahai
    former Professor and Head of Anatomy
    former Faculty I/c MCI, DCI, UGC Cell,
    former Faculty I/c Affiliation Cell,
    CSM Medical University, UP (KGMC)

    B-700, Sector-C,
    Mandir Marg, Mahanagar,
    Lucknow-226 006 UP, India

    Phone: 0522-2335354,
    Mobile: 9415395113, 8808687978


  3. My deepest condolences to Dr Govil's family. Yes he was both a good doc and a very good human being. May his soul rest in peace.Totally committed to the cause of children Dr Govil was once invited to address a special session organized by Media Nest under the banner of Media for Children in 2011. Sure he will be fondly remembered by the many whose life he touched.

    Kulsum Talha

  4. I am extremely sad to learn about the untimely passing away of Dr Yogesh Govil. I had a few encounters with him and found him to be a compassionate, gentle and sensitive doctor full of commitment, humility and a deep concern for his patients. These trait are sadly absent amongst most doctors today.

    May Dr Govil's soul rest in peace and the the doctor fraternity learn a lesson or two from the life Dr Govil lived.


    Jayant Krishna

  5. I heard about Prof Govil's sad and untimely demise here in Toronto, Canada. Needless to say he was my teacher, a very memorable teacher who made Pediatrics so interesting for me as an MBBS student in late 90s that I chose Pediatrics as my speciality. His contribution towards the working of a PICU was much needed for the whole region which lacked PICU services during the times I was training.
    I recognize Ms Shukla as my much revered Physics teacher who was amazing at teaching Physics, in Loreto Convent, during the year 1992-93
    Hats off to you mam, and it is nice to read about you and actually see your pic after nearly 2 decades.

  6. He helped a lot of people during the time he was alive. But this just shows that tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. I just hope that the good deeds he has done may be continued by his successors.

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  7. Doctor Govil's good works will not be in vain. He has helped a lot in his lifetime. I just hope that we will not forget to help others too.
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  8. It is unfortunate that a good doctor like him has passed away. I hope more doctors would do their jobs well as how he did in his service to many people. medical malpractice lawyers

  9. Thank you for sharing this nice article. It pains me to see people getting involve in accidents even if it's not their fault.
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