‘Bring back our friendly neighbourhood family physicians’

Sound health is a combination of physical, mental and social wellbeing. A state can be healthy only if every individual is physically and mentally fit and socially active. The one person who we can rely on to make us 100% fit with complete assurance is the friendly neighbourhood family physician


A family doctor is like a friend who provides preventive care, teaches us to follow a healthy lifestyle, identifies and treats medical conditions on time. They become a guide who shows us the right path to lead a healthy life. However, today, family doctors hardly exist.

The trend is to run to specialists even when we suffer from common cold. Building a strong army of family physicians will help build a ‘Healthy Maharashtra’ because we need doctors who can also give love and compassion, apart from medicines.

Unfortunately, the focus now is on National Medical Commission Bill, Clinical Establishment Act and Consumer Protection Act. The most important question is shouldn’t the government consult the medical fraternity before drafting these laws?

Building a strong army of family physicians will help build Healthy Maharashtra because we need doctors who can also give love and compassion, apart from medicines.

If the government seriously aims at building a healthy state, the policy makers should focus on infusing funds to create a strong model for health infrastructure. The need of the hour is to increase health expenditure to boost primarily and rural healthcare centres.

Countries such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are spending more on their health infrastructure than us. Like them, we need to take proactive steps considering our current medical scenario.

With an aim to reach to the policymakers, Indian Medical Association (IMA) has prepared a health manifesto through which we aim to bring core health issues to the fore. Health coverage and medical care for all are our primary demands. If we want to reach the poor and needy, we must make the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) accessible to all. The condition of the primary and rural health centres should be improved drastically.

The government should take a holistic view and approach when it comes to providing healthcare to the people. Social determinants such as clean water, unadulterated food and sanitation facilities should be within the reach of all. Awareness should be created so that we stop diseases from spreading.

A state can never be healthy without a trained and dedicated work force. In order to provide health services, we need not only good doctors but also trained paramedical workers to assist doctors.

In addition, the government should cap fees at medical colleges to make medical education more affordable. Increasing seats in the medical colleges and starting paramedical courses can fill the crunch.

Attacks on medical practitioners and doctors is another major area of concern. We need an act at the central level to curb these cases. There is an act in Maharashtra preventing attacks on medical practitioners, but the police and government bodies are not aware of it. If a similar act is in place at the central level, everyone will be more serious and stringent action can be taken against the culprits.

In India, 70% of the healthcare services are taken care by the private medical practitioners. The IMA is prepared to work hand-in-hand with the government to serve the poor. Public Private Partnership (PPP) will help us reach the remotest areas and provide medical care for all. Medical knowledge is a double-edged sword.

The knowledge can benefit people, but if applied wrongly, the effects can be adverse. Cross-pathy and bridge course can and will never will be a permanent solution to address the healthcare needs of the poor and needy patients.

The author is the Vice President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA)