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The Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health

An Overview and A Perspective

The Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH) is one of the eight Centres of the School of Social Sciences. These Centres were conceptualised by eight Special Committees that outlined the academic challenges that needed to be addressed by the Centres of JNU. The Special Committee of the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, which visualised the objective and the scope of the Centre, recognised the critical need of both delineating a field of enquiry in the discipline and generating a data base for public health in India. It emphasised these needs and placed them high on the Centre’s agenda along with the task of training both social scientists and physicians of academically applying themselves to the huge tasks of public health in the country.

The recognition that the discipline of Preventive and Social Medicine needed to be strengthened was the major impetus for establishing the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Centre was set up outside the confines of a medical college so that it could enrich itself through wider interaction with the various disciplines of natural and social sciences. Over the past 25 years, the Centre has acquired the rich experience of evolving problem-oriented interdisciplinary academic programmes in addition to building an active research base. At the same time, efforts have also been made at constructing institutional links with policy making.

Under the overall objective of creating academic programmes for making health services meaningful to the people of the country, the CSMCH set out its objective to understand the health problems and health needs of the Indian people with a view to find workable solutions for them in the existing social structure and to examine the social structure itself to delineate the structural constraints which limit the scope of health interventions. The task obviously requires an inter-disciplinary approach involving disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, history, politics, demography, statistics and public administration, apart from the disciplines that are traditionally included in public health. It was for this reason that the Centre was located in the School of Social Sciences.