The interiors of the Health Museum are marked by stained walls, fading posters and ignored items of the shelves. The last contribution to the museum was a decade ago
Hyderabad: “A very fine health museum. I wish other cities had something like this,” remarked Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru way back in 1953. He was inaugurating the city’s Museum, at Public Gardens. Also present at the inauguration even was the former Chief Minister of Hyderabad state, M.K. Vellodi. “It is one of the best of its kind, existing in the country,” a very impressed Mr Vellodi had said.
Hundreds of dignitaries, citizens and students who have visited the museum in the past have praised the idea behind the institution, and its heritage. In fact, the 69-year-old building is almost as old as free India and there are photographs and comments by dignitaries on display that go on to prove it. But this unique vault of medical history is now sick — suffering due to prolonged neglect by governments.
Visitors have to endure dust, cobwebs and broken furniture. So plentiful is the dust, that there’s a real danger of visitors suffering from allergies. The roof and walls are worn out, dirt covers the exhibits, the paint is peeling and the photographs on the dirty walls are fading. We’re fast losing a worthwhile inheritance.
And it’s not as if the Museum is situated in some remote corner of the city - it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council.
Though the idea of having a health museum was reportedly conceived in 1939, the final idea took shape in 1948 - at a location in Chikkadpally.
The building was moved to Trophy Hall, Public Garden (Jawahar Bal Bhavan) in 1952 and was inaugurated by then Chief Minister M.K. Vellodi. A booklet on the Health Museum dedicated to Pandit Nehru was released in 1953.
Later, it was moved to its present location, Ajanta Pavilion at Public Garden, in 1966. It was visited by leading lights of world health. A family-planning mission from the United Nations visited it in 1969 and there was even a Parliamentary delegation visiting in 1978.
The maintenance of the museum comes under the purview of the medical and health department. A senior official of the health department admits that the building and its contents can be “revived”.
“All we need is funds - the lack of which is the root cause for the neglect. There are no funds for maintenance of this age-old building. A couple of lakhs will help revive it and we also need to infuse new development and educational apparatus,” the official added.
He's right. The last item to go on display was over a decade ago. The Hyderabad Health Museum has sections on nutrition, motherhood, child birth, various types of cancer, malaria, mosquito-breeding control measures, general hygiene, bacteriological standards for drinking water, harmful effects of smoking etc.
There are photographs of parts of the human anatomy and clay models of fruits and vegetables. There's even a poster of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishna, the former President of India, declaring: 'Growth of population should be checked.' Overall, it offers a fascinating insight on how diseases and cures evolved into what they are today.
Unfortunately however, the Health museum lies in decay and unless there's immediate action, we're looking at the loss of another piece of our heritage. Entrance to the museum is free. It is open on all working days from 10am to 5pm except Fridays.
To revive or not, a decision soon: Minister
Minister for Medical and Health Dr C. Laxma Reddy says the state government will take a decision soon on whether to revive the Hyderabad Health Museum, or not.
“I visited the museum a few days ago. It’s in pretty bad shape. I have instructed officials to submit a detailed report on its status and the funds required to revive it. Should we revive it or close it down? I feel it can be revived,” he told Deccan Chronicle.
Dr Reddy said it’s a historic museum which once drew in people and dignitaries from all over the country and beyond. “Whoever visited it had high praise for it. It was quite an educational trip,” Mr Reddy added.
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