Dr Hattangadi Vinod Bhat spearheads the diversification of the Manipal University course offerings, international collaborations and research. He has been responsible for the spectacular growth in external research funding for the Manipal University; increasing the funds from less than 1 crore per year to more than 20 crores a year in seven years.
Earlier, he was the recipient of the Fogarty International Center Fellowship at the Summer Institute, University of Alabama USA, and was conferred the FRCP from Glasgow University in 2008.
‘Changing landscapes.’ That is how Dr Bhat describes his life and work. His early schooling was in Udupi district after which he lived in various cities around the country with his family.
Dr Bhat’s first specialisation after his MBBS was in paediatrics. As a practicing paediatrician, he treated sick children and realised that healthcare interventions produced better results when approached in other ways. His second specialisation, therefore, was in the field of Community Medicine.
He joined Manipal in 1988. For the next 13 years, his landscape was a new hospital he conceptualised, planned and set up at Karkala, with his wife, a gynaecologist and obstetrician. Karkala is a rural centre, and Dr Bhat was entrusted with the responsibility of creating a healthcare facility there, to serve the local community. In October 1998, two doctors, two nurses and two orderlies threw open the doors of an 8-bedded hospital. Everyone did everything, and starting the generator was as much a part of Dr Bhat’s job as attending to patients.
Today, the same TMA Pai Rotary Hospital has 100 beds, and provides quality healthcare in obstetrics, paediatrics and ophthalmology at an affordable cost to people in and around the Karkala Taluk.
In 2001, Dr Vinod Bhat returned to Manipal as Head of the Department of Community Medicine at KMC. He started new healthcare initiatives and added facilities to the Rural Maternity and Child Welfare (RMCW) homes that had been the brainchild of Dr TMA Pai as nerve-centres for delivery of community healthcare. The social programs led to an overall improvement in community health, and today, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of the region is 4.2 per 1000 live births – way below the IMR of India (42 per 1000) or that of Karnataka (35 per 1000). Such has been the impact of monitoring, creating and sustaining healthcare schemes for the community at large, that in the last two years, in a population of 50,000, not a single woman has died during pregnancy or childbirth.
In 2004, Dr Bhat was appointed Director Planning, Manipal University. In 2005, he was appointed as Registrar and in 2010 the Pro Vice Chancellor. From June 1, 2015, he has assumed the role of the sixth Vice Chancellor of Manipal University. Today, he is the face of the university, world over.