After their medical studies and Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, they decided to relocateto the internal tribal pockets of Maharashtra. Abhay and Rani set up the Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) to provide community healthcare to the tribes in Gadchiroli district located in the south eastern corner of Maharashtra, Gadchiroli is almost entirely rural. It has a large tribal population and had only 22 per cent literacy, scant transportation, and no industry to speak of.
Dr. Abhay Bang and Dr. Rani Bang's work in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra has changed the face of health care in this area. Where healthcare was once non-existent, there are now a tribal-friendly hospital, experienced health workers in villages, and trained traditional birth attendants.
By using rigorous research methods, they showed that their new approach, the Home-based Newborn and Child Care (HBNCC) could reduce the infant mortality to the level of 30 from the baseline of 121. This approach was celebrated by the Lancet as the Vintage Paper in the Lancet, has received global recognition and has changed the newborn care policy in several developing countries.
The Government of India has introduced this approach in the entire country by training 800,00 ASHAs. In 1990, the couple raised a movement for liquor ban in Gadchiroli district. The movement resulted in liquor ban in the district in year 1992, being the first example in India of liquor ban due to public demand. In 2006, they started an initiative - NIRMAN, for identifying and nurturing social changemakers in Maharashtra.
They have received 53 awards – international, national, state and private, including the gold medal of the Indian Council of Medical Research, ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ the highest award in the state and the ‘Global Health Heroes’ by the TIME magazine.