‘Doctors should devote their time in talking to patients’

Doctors, nurses, paramedical and support staff form a strong and robust framework of the ‘Health Pyramid’. Providing health services to a state is a herculean task, but stronger the pyramid, more robust the health system will be. If we can develop this pyramid, especially in rural areas, nothing can stop Maharashtra from becoming a healthy and prosperous state

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Unfortunately, rural areas still do not have an adequate number of doctors and paramedical staff. We face an acute crunch of nursing staff as well. Due to non-availability of trained manpower, there is a disparity in the health services at urban and rural areas. Healthy Maharashtra should cover two major aspects: availability of specialised human resources and solid rural health infrastructure.

It is the government’s duty to draw a mechanism so that people living in rural areas get basic treatment close to home. But without allocating funds, creating infrastructure is not possible. The government should increase the health budget from existing 1.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to at least 5%.

If good infrastructure is created and necessary facilities are provided, competent doctors would want to offer their services in rural areas. The reality today is a lot of needy people do not even seek medical facilities as are unable to afford it. If our Primary Health Centres (PHCs) are well-equipped, we can avoid this, and treatment can be accessible to everyone.

The other and perhaps the most significant aspect of health is prevention. Unfortunately, our doctors are not paying attention to this. Their focus has shifted to treatment rather than prevention.

The health of any state is entirely defined by its prevention apparatus. But, regrettably, the focus now is more on treating diseases, rather than preventing them. If prevention is followed judiciously, then the treatment expenditure will reduce drastically.

The government should invest its resources in preventive aspects. If we do that the health of the state will automatically improve. Concerted efforts towards preventive healthcare will help build a Healthy Maharashtra.

In my opinion, doctors should devote their time to talking to patients, informing them about the disease and the course of treatment. But, sadly, this is not the case.

The Union Health Ministry and the state government are taking back-breaking efforts to upgrade and overhaul the health system. However, merely introducing bridge course will not suffice the purpose. An MBBS doctor invests five-and-half years to learn the medicine.

Will a short one year or six months bridge course suffice the purpose? Rather than doing this, the government should concentrate on relaxing the rules and regulations for the medical colleges so that the number of seats can be increased.

And why the discrimination of having bridge course doctors for the rural areas and trained ones for the urban? Paramedics can assist doctors, but the head of the pyramid of health should be an allopath.

I would also like to raise the important point of the doctor-patient relationship. Over the years, the patients have lost their faith in doctors. The main cause is a lack of communication between them.

In my opinion, doctors should devote their time to talking to patients, informing them about the disease and the course of treatment. But, sadly, this is not the case. This is the reason why the MBBS curriculum has now been redefined, with ethics and communication skills as a core subject.

Also, the government should work in tandem with private players by entering into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. Primary and secondary health services should be taken care by the government, and the tertiary should be left to private hospitals.

Making health services easily available and at affordable rates should be the foundation of Healthy Maharashtra.

And, last but not the least; the state should form a mechanism to eliminate quackery. This is the biggest blot on the healthcare system. No citizen of Maharashtra should fall prey to quacks. The Maharashtra Medical Council is trying its level best to plug-in the gaps and take stern action against the quacks so that Maharashtra’s health will not be compromised at any given point.

The author is the President of the Maharashtra Medical Council