Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the medical fraternity in India has been serving the people with great distinction under very difficult conditions.
“The death of medical personnel in the Kabul blast defined the risks that Indian medical teams have to face while serving in Afghanistan,” Dr. Singh said at the inauguration of the annual meeting of the Indian Association of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgeons and the Asian Society for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery here.
Paying tributes to those killed in the blast on Friday, the Prime Minister said: “My thoughts go out to those members of the Indian Medical Mission in Kabul who, while serving the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women and children, used to visit Indira Gandhi Hospital there, perished in the terror attack yesterday.”
He said the incident indicated the measure of uncertainty that Indian doctors work under and pointed to the risks they faced while serving the people of Afghanistan. “It is a measure of the commitment to relief of human suffering that the medical fraternity is known for all over the world,” he said.
“Indians were very proud of the reputation their doctors have earned both in the country and in every part of the world, and I am one of those who has personally benefited enormously from the expertise and skills of our doctors, especially cardio-thoracic surgeons,” Dr. Singh said.
Present on the occasion were Dr. Ramakant Panda and Dr. Sampath Kumar, two doctors from the team that conducted a “re-do” bypass surgery on the Prime Minister last year.
Admitting that one of the challenges before India was the increased incidence of heart and blood vessel diseases, Dr. Singh said these ailments affected all social classes, with the poor being particularly vulnerable. Coronary heart disease is also manifesting itself in much younger age groups than in the past, he added.
He said there was growing consensus within the medical fraternity that urgent measures needed to be taken from the preventive point of view and in relation to cardiac surgical care.
“The ambitious plans for the health sector cannot be realised unless there is a substantial expansion in the number of health care professionals,” Dr. Singh said, adding that the government was working on this aspect and would facilitate a rapid expansion of the human resource infrastructure in the sector.
“I believe we will have to look at creative ways of utilising the services of practicing professionals to overcome the shortage of teachers in this vital sector,” he said.