By Dr. Sujit Kar Purakayastha
Over 100 years ago, the first medical college in Asia was established in undivided Bengal and not surprisingly Bengal was at the driving seat of medical profession. Reputation of doctors from the city of Calcutta reached a new height throughout the country and high quality work culminated in Dr Ronald Ross receiving the Nobel prize in medicine for his work, which he carried out at the Presidency General Hospital, now known as Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research. Subsequent generation of doctors continued the good work and contributed widely not only inside the country but also overseas, in country like the United Kingdom. Since independence, gradually there has been a shift of excellence in medical practice from east to south. While Bengal used to attract patients from the rest of the country in the past, medical institutions in the south now are thriving on patients from the east. Time has come for us to think why this has happened, if there are any reasons and what can we do as a community to address this. Even though there are still many brilliant Bengali speaking doctors working, at individual level, with great reputation all over the globe, Bengal seems to be drifting backward as a well knit heath care provider. Bangla worldwide has created a platform where doctors from both sides of Bengali speaking world and the wider Bengali diaspora can meet, exchange knowledge, exchange skills, promote education, promote research and restore the glory of yesteryears.
We have major hospitals which are NABH/JCI accredited with available facilities like Open heart surgery CABG, Valve Replacement, Heart Transplantation, EPS, CRRT, Liver resection, Liver transplantation, Whipple’s operation, TIPSS, RFA, Therapeutic Upper and Lower GI Endoscopies, Therapeutic ERCP, Endoscopic Ultrasound, Angio embolisation, Advanced Laparoscopic surgery, Renal Transplantation, TURP, Joint Replacement surgery, Arthroscopy, Developmental Paediatrics, Skull based surgery and many more. Comprehensive cancer care centres, NABL/CAP accredited laboratories, advanced diagnostic and interventional radiology facilities, cosmetic dentistry and dermatology, elderly care, rehabilitation, hospital at home service are all available now. What are we missing then? Why are our patients reluctant to put their trust in us? We need to do some serious soul searching and aim to restore our credibility.
First world technology has come to the developing countries in a big way. Aggressive marketing by the corporate houses for use of expensive technology indiscriminately has created a negative impact on the profession. Doctors have been pressurized to use technology more than it is required and the profession has not been able to deal with this unfair pressure from the commercial investors. It is important to unite and regain trust of the patients and we have to be seen as giving priorities to patients’ choices. Our approach has got to be patient centric and we must be prepared to give time to our patients. A healthy competition between health care providers could be initiated through this forum to improve patient perception.
It may be possible to encourage clinical audits to check on patient outcome and experience. Honest audits will help improving the clinical standard in deficient areas and will be a game changer in the perception of good clinical practice in the country. Bengal can be a leader in this area and objectively assess good clinical practice. Well performing hospitals can be rated and rewarded by this forum in association with the Government in public knowledge. There will be dual benefit – patients will know where to go for better treatment and then not so well performing hospitals will try to improve their standard to get more patients. This will discourage the media houses to rate hospitals for financial gain and unethical advertisements will be discouraged. Most importantly, there will be overall improvement in the standard of care in the state.
It should be possible to measure clinical effectiveness in hospitals through feedback for both in and outpatients by tool devised by an expert committee and data may be collected by independent agencies, deployed by the forum, where both private and Government Hospitals may participate. Healthy competition between hospitals to get recognition will improve the overall standard of health care within the state.
There mayl be regular updates in the website on health matters of public importance particularly to avoid gimmicks of uncertain or little benefit. For example, certain media or some section of the profession advocate platelet transfusion for all patient with Dengue even with marginally low platelet without proper reason. This not only cause great inconvenience to relatives of patients who frantically try to collect platelet where it may not be required and inappropriate use of a valuable component may not become available to those who really need it most.
This forum will aim to bring closer the Bengali speaking doctors from India ,Bangladesh and other countries through exchange of dialogues via this portal and regular meetings in small groups in different venues. It may be possible to organize visit of certain doctors with special skills from overseas or from other parts of India to this part of the country. It may be possible to send some young doctors to get exposure to some new skills in an advanced centre, if that is not available locally.
This forum will aim to organise annual “Banga” festival in Kolkata in a big convention centre with exposition of all verticals including an international medical conference during day and musical function in the evening where overseas participants may be encouraged to attend. This may take place during January of each year when many non resident Indians visit their country of origin. There are a number of cultural groups both in the US and the UK who regularly stage drama in their respective countries and they would love to present their production in front of the home crowd which may also be arranged.
Eventual goal of the forum is to bring all Bengali speaking people closer and enrich the entire community with the good things that we all possess. Not the caste, class or religion but the language should remain our strongest common link.