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Keshav Desiraju is confirmed dead at the age of 66.

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What did Keshav Desiraju do?
Keshav was best known as a Indian bureaucrat and mental health advocate.
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Keshav Desiraju's death was likely due to cardiac arrest.
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Keshav Desiraju
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Keshav Desiraju
Keshave Desiraju P padmanabhan.png
Desiraju delivering the inaugural P. Padmanabhan memorial award, 2015
Born(1955-05-11)11 May 1955
Died5 September 2021(2021-09-05) (aged 66)
Known forPublic health, mental health, primary and community healthcare
Keshav Desiraju (11 May 1955 – 5 September 2021) was an Indian bureaucrat who served as the union health secretary of the country. He was known for his contributions to mental health and community healthcare, and was the architect of the country's mental healthcare act of 2017.
1 Early life
2 Career
3 Personal life
4 Published works
5 References
6 External links
Early life
Desiraju was born on 11 May 1955 and grew up in South Bombay where he attended the Cathedral and John Connon School. He was the grandson of former Indian President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and the nephew of Indian historian Sarvepalli Gopal.
He completed his Master's degree in Economics from University of Cambridge and also had a Master of Public Administration from the John F Kennedy School of Government at the Harvard University. He was a member of the Indian Administrative Service belonging to the 1978 Uttarakhand cadre.
Desiraju was a member of the Indian Administrative Service and served as the union secretary with the ministry of health. He had earlier served as the chief secretary for the state of Uttarakhand. As a bureaucrat, Desiraju focused on public health, primary health care and community health. During his term as the additional secretary with the Ministry of Health, he initiated the ban on Gutka and chewable forms of tobacco, a move that was later adopted and replicated by many states.
He also advanced the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2012, that later went on to become the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. The bill was considered path-breaking and introduced provisions that allowed for a person to call out the nature of treatment that one should be provided if they were to develop a mental illness later in their lives. An editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry read “The drafters of India's new legislation have demonstrated wisdom and vision in articulating a legally binding right to such care despite the inevitable challenges and complexities of such a bold move. The rest of the world should watch, listen and learn.” His approach was described as a pragmatic middle of the ground approach trying to draw a fine balance protecting patients from potentially exploitative care providers and also family members while guaranteeing "right to health" in emergencies. He also led actions from India on getting the World Health Organization to pass the special resolution on mental health and led to the development of the organization's Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan of 2013.
During his service with the health ministry he also advanced efforts that resulted in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences being designated as an institute of national importance. He also led the creation of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) an expert group that determined linkages between vaccination and immunization and the national health program including determining the vaccines that would be administered nationally. He was also noted to have strengthened the governance systems in the National Health Mission. His stint with the health ministry, however, was cut short in February 2014 when he was moved away from the health ministry and over to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. The move was believed to be due to his dissent with the leadership at the Medical Council of India. He continued to maintain his focus on the healthcare space addressing topics of mental health and corruption in the healthcare space even after moving away from the ministry. He also co-wrote a book Healers or Predators focusing on corruption in the healthcare industry in India. As a bureaucrat he was widely recognized for his "impeccable honesty and integrity".
After his retirement from the administrative services, he was appointed the chairperson of the governing board of the Population Foundation of India, a non profit organization focused on communication health and population strategies for the country. He was also on the board of directors of organizations including Auroville.
Desiraju was a follower of Carnatic music and wrote a biography, considered definitive, of Indian carnatic music singer, M. S. Subbulakshmi titled Of Gifted Voice. At the time of his death he was working on a book on carnatic music composer Thyagaraja and was learning Telugu for the effort.
Desiraju addressing the inaugural National NCD Summit, New Delhi, 2013
Desiraju on the release of the National Initiative for Allied Health Sciences (NIAHS) report, New Delhi, 2012
Desiraju addressing the India-UK Health Policy Forum, New Delhi, 2013
Desiraju at the launch of the media campaign of the National Tobacco Control Program, New Delhi, 2012
Desiraju exchanging an MOU with the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Margaret A. Hamburg, New Delhi, 2014
Desiraju addressing a CII standards conclave, New Delhi 2015
Personal life
Desiraju was not married and remained a bachelor until his death. He followed carnatic music and attended the annual Madras Music Season. He was also an art collector collecting works of Raja Ravi Varma. Desiraju died from acute coronary syndrome on September 5, 2021 in Chennai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He was 66.
Published works
Desiraju, Keshav (2021). "Do we need more All India Institute of Medical Sciences - Type institutions?". Journal of Medical Evidence. 2 (1): 71. doi:10.4103/jme.jme_32_21. ISSN 2667-0720.
Desiraju, Keshav (2018). Healers or Predators? : Healthcare Corruption in India. S. Nundy, Sanjay Nagral. New Delhi, India. ISBN 978-0-19-948954-1. OCLC 1046567144.CS1 maint: date and year (link)
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