When you think of Dr. Pravina Shah itâ€™s not just an esteemed neurologist that comes to mind but also a wonderful human being: compassionate, dedicated and sensitive to the needs of others. As she recalls when she began practice, it was the challenges that her patients faced in the social sphere that tugged her heart. The Social Accomplishment Award given jointly by the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League against Epilepsy, to one person every two years, is in recognition of her lifeâ€™s work in the social field.
She has empowered people with epilepsy by pioneering the support group movement in India. In 1991 when she started the support group Samman she held meetings in her own home. Since 1998 meetings have been held at ECell, our epilepsy center, situated in the heart of Mumbai city which was set up by Dr. Shah. Additionally the Mumbai Chapter offers counseling and psychotherapy, special education, yoga and conducts training and awareness programs at ECell. Her involvement with ECell continues to date and it has been her dedication and leadership that has inspired many people to support her in this cause.
To further improve the acceptance and quality of life of people with epilepsy she educated patients, caregivers and the public especially school children as she believes young minds are open to new ideas. She has also organized education programs at various hospitals in Mumbai. She was part of the faculty for the â€œEpilepsy Control Programme for District Level Officersâ€ at NIMHANS, Bangalore. Various workshops she has organized in Mumbai have focused on â€˜Child Remediationâ€™, â€˜E-Education for Paramedicals and Caregiversâ€™, â€˜Epilepsy & Marriageâ€™, â€˜Epilepsy & Employmentâ€™, â€˜Epilepsy & Womenâ€™ and personality development through art, drama and counseling.
To help in the education process, early in her career she authored the book â€˜Epilepsy Factsâ€™ â€˜Mirgiâ€™ and â€˜Vaino Rogâ€™ and published pocket cards, pamphlets and newsletters. She made a documentary film on Epilepsy with noted film director Shyam Benegal which was translated in 14 languages and aired on the national network. In November 2009 as President of the IEA, she ran a national campaign on â€˜Prevention of Epilepsyâ€™. In Mumbai she organized a press conference which resulted in 10 press articles in leading dailies. She also got a pharma company to sponsor a full page ad on National Epilepsy Day â€™09 in the Times of India which appeared in 5 metro cities. The sponsored page covered different aspects of Epilepsy and was written by various Indian Professionals.
To alleviate the financial burden of patients she started the â€˜Adopt A Patientâ€™ project in 1995 which continues to this date. At E-Cell, AEDs are given at a subsidized rate to members of the Bombay Chapter. On 18th November 2007 she conducted the first rural epilepsy camp in Pen, Raigad District. Since then a camp has been held there every 6-8 weeks and medicines distributed free or at a nominal rate. Approximately 90-100 patients attend each camp and Dr. Shah sees each and every one of them.
Dr. Pravina Shah is a deeply spiritual person, whose work has mostly been with the poor and marginalized. She started her career at BYL Nair Hospital where she put in 7 years and left to join KEM Hospital as Professor & Head of Neurology a post she held for 19 years. She currently consults at Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
At the end of the day I am sure I speak on behalf of all her students, patients and colleagues that she is the most approachable teacher/doctor/co-worker; a friend, philosopher and guide.
– Carol Dâ€™Souza