Monday, September 2, 2013

Steps sought to solve acute dearth of specialist doctors

Citing an urgent need to tackle the acute dearth of specialised doctors owing to inadequate PG seats, a campaign called ‘Save doctors who save your lives’ will be launched by medical practitioners across the state soon, as part of a nation wide campaign. The campaign says that an increase in the number of specialised doctors is the need of the hour as an MBBS doctor cannot treat non-communicable diseases (NCD) including those contributing to Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).
“Treating NCDs is a gargantuan task and is going to be the major challenge in the days to come. To name a few, the top ten causes of death in India include cardiac diseases, diarrhoeal disease, chronic respiratory diseases and stroke. Nine out of those ten require specialist doctors. Unfortunately, we do not have enough specialised doctors due to inadequate number of PG seats in medical institutions”, said Dr Prem Kumar Nair, medical director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, who heads the campaign in Kerala.
He pointed out that it is ironic that there exist a huge disparity in the seats allotted for PG and UG in a country which has the largest number of medical institutions.
“The mandatory rural posting also affects them as they end up spending 13 years only for studying. If this trend persists the risk will increase as there will be a dearth of specialists when a senior specialist doctors or surgeons retire”, he said. Dr Prem Kumar said that the government can solve the issue by adding more number of PG seats in the hospitals.
“For instance, the number of students under each professor or associate professor has to be increased. If they are currently handling one, it has to be increased to five”, he said.  Approximately 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies end up requiring Caesarian section and if not managed well, the repercussion will be a high MMR. Caesarian sections need a radiologist to perform ultrasound scan to predict complications during childbirth, an anaesthesiologist to anaesthetize the pregnant woman, a gynaecologist to conduct the operation and a paediatrician to resuscitate the baby. A doctor with MBBS degree can attend to a normal delivery but a doctor with post graduation degree can reduce Infant Mortality Rate and MMR.
Dr Prem also said that owing to the dearth of specialists in rural areas, the infant mortality rate and MMR are high.
Besides, by increasing the number of post graduation seats, ‘brain drain’ will also come down drastically. “Many are opting for foreign countries as they could not secure PG seats. Increasing PG seats will be the right solution in this regard”, he added.