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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