The medical profession is a calling. It requires sacrifice and grit to become a healer, a clinician, and from then on, it is a responsibility and commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Beyond the initial years of studying medicine, doctors have to work very hard every single day to upgrade their knowledge and skills.
What makes the process more challenging is the dynamic nature of the world we live in today. Knowledge and the nature of knowledge are evolving, driven by technological developments. Healthcare challenges have also constantly evolved. Doctors have reduced many feared ailments to stories of the past. But ailments have also remodelled and resurfaced and are posing different tests to doctors today.
Challenges are not new to doctors; in fact, they are doctors’ companions right from the time he or she decides to enter the medical profession. I would urge every doctor to bear this in mind. No medical professional should be disheartened by the recent incidents of violence against members of the fraternity. I was pleased to see the support of fellow professionals, citizens and the government towards the fraternity’s call for stronger laws to ensure its safety.
Developments in healthcare
There are fabulous developments taking place in healthcare today. Health is on the national agenda for the first time after Independence. Ayushman Bharat is a game-changer. It will cover the cost of medical care for almost 40% of India’s population, while the 1,50,000 Health and Wellness Centres being developed will strengthen the national focus on preventive healthcare.
There is a willingness amongst our administrators to hear the perspectives of the sector. Innovative plans are on the anvil to boost medical education and hospital infrastructure. Skilling for healthcare is gaining momentum, and will undoubtedly be a key engine for job creation. Millions of medical value travellers from over a hundred countries are choosing India for medical and surgical treatment. Huge investments are being made to build hospitals, contemporary medical centres and remote healthcare models. As a clinician with over six decades of experience, I am confident that we have all the elements in place for a healthier and happier India. There is no better time to be a doctor than today.
The big challenge today
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a big challenge today and need serious tackling. The World Health Organization has been ringing the warning bells for the last few years on the challenges that NCDs pose. NCDs have been rapidly growing. Cancer, stroke, obesity and diabetes are some of the ailments growing at an alarming pace. They affect people across ages and threaten the younger population a lot more than the older population. But there are only finite manpower and resources to manage the problem. The limited pool of medical professionals, technicians and nurses, equipment and hospital beds will make it very difficult to tackle the onslaught of patients and diseases in the coming decade. The entire medical fraternity must come together to tackle this threat with a disruptive and innovative approach of creating a continuum of care. This will enable healthcare to start from preventive care instead of limiting medical excellence to curative care. Doctors must encourage an attitude of care continuum among patients.
On the occasion of National Doctors Day , doctors need to pledge again the medical oath. They have to be the harbingers of change in the attitudes and approaches towards healthcare. They need to become role models for their patients to lead healthier lives. They must educate patients about NCDs, and promote preventive care.
Prathap C. Reddy is Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group