As a doctor today I prescribe kindness, devotion and sacrifice.
You are in this profession as a calling, not a business; as a calling which exacts from you at every turn self-sacrifice, devotion, love and tenderness to your fellow-men. Once you get down to a purely business level, your influence is gone and the true light of your life is dimmed. You must work in the missionary spirit, with a breadth of charity that raises you far above the petty jealousies of life. – William Osler
There is a staggering difference in access to basic health care in the urban cities of the emerging markets as the rich and poor live in a completely different world in the same city. ( Ref: Hidden cities: Unmasking and overcoming health inequities in urban settings. Authors: WHO, UN Habitat)
It has been reported that from 330 medical colleges, India has 1 doctor for every 1700 people. In rural areas, the ratio is one per 25,000 and in urban areas, this is 1 per 667.
Despite these figures, it's not all doom and gloom. There are still many untold stories of act of kindness, selfless dedication of highly qualified doctors and numerous unsung heroes who are tirelessly working to save millions of lives.
1) Thousands of doctors dedicating their entire life in primary health centres in remote villages without whining and complaining about lack of adequate modern facilities. They are the backbone of the rural health care in our country.
2) There are reports of dedicated doctors keeping critical medical unit running in Government hospitals despite lack of electricity, food and medical supplies due to severe flooding or other sudden natural calamities. Without electricity gynaecologists have successfully performed caesarian section and saved lives of both mother and child.
3) First double hand transplant was performed in a private hospital. The entire expense was borne by a religious organisation. According to report only 110 successful hand operations have been performed in the world so far.
4) Specialists in various specialities are devoting several hours every week in the clinics for urban slum dwellers and providing free medicines wherever possible.
5) Many senior doctors are sponsoring full medical education of at least one brilliant student from the underprivileged sections of the society.
6) City doctors are regularly organising blood donation camps and donating blood along with peers and other medical staff. One pint of blood can save up to three lives.
7) They are making generous contribution towards purchase of ambulance and other medical equipments for local charitable hospital.
8) Many are actively involved with NGOs and creating awareness about various diseases and distributing pamphlets and posters on diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Gastroenteritis, Poliomyelitis, Sexually transmitted disease and arsenic poisoning.
9) Academics are publishing inexpensive medical books in every speciality and distributing them to thousands of local medical students.
10) These academics are organising tutorials for small groups of medical students and actively using technology to explain various disease process.
11) Local city doctors are jointly donating new computers and expensive medical books to the Medical College Library of their alma mater.
12) They are taking full responsibility of the treatment of their domestic staff like maid, house keeper, cleaners, cook, gardener, car driver.
13) Some doctors are legally adopting homeless children from the orphanage and bringing them up along with their own children.
14) Doctors who are cancer survivors are spending more time in psychological counselling of patients suffering from malignant diseases.
15) Many doctors are making a pledge to donate their organs and tissues like kidney, lung, liver, heart, eyes, heart valves after death. Even after death parts of the doctor's body will remain alive and save lives of many needy patients.
India would still need about four lakh more doctors by 2020 to maintain a ratio of 1 doctor every 1000 patients.
As a senior doctor and a citizen of India I will request parents not to force their children into medical profession to earn tons of money or as a stepping stone to migrate to a foreign country. Preparing for USMLE and PLAB should not be the aim of a newly qualified doctor. It is a long and tough road in this profession where working experience is invaluable. Your precious diagnosis and treatment will save the life of a dying sick human being, in the country where you earned your medical degree by sheer hard work and merit. It is time to give back to your motherland.
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