‘Doctors in the dark’

Medical conditions prevailing in our country, as detailed by Dr. Sumanth Raman (‘Doctors in the dark,’ Open Page, The Hindu, December 30, 2012), is known to all. But the steps recommended to improve health delivery, though laudable, are highly impractical in a vast country with a mindboggling population and a bad doctor-population ratio, which incidentally is the cause of the short encounter time taken by the primary care physician, and where practitioners of multitudes of medical systems are given a free rein. One of the important reasons why people survive in spite of us — doctors — is that a majority of ‘illnesses’ they do not need us, they are self-limiting problems. Any quackery gives relief.

The scientific steps put forth by the good doctor are aimed at only the graduates of the modern system (the so-called allopathy, which is a misnomer) which may be resented as victimisation because it leaves untouched the practitioners of other systems where an accountability is not possible. In spite of all the ills of our health delivery system, our nation is still chugging along on this front also! Life expectancy, which was only 35 in the 1940s, has gone up to 65 for an Indian now. (How will we keep all these old people, including me, healthy and happy?!). The infant mortality rate has come down from 160/1000 livebirths to about 55 now. (In Kerala, it is 12, closer to the most technologically advanced nations.) These are no mean achievements. To improve the health delivery system further, we need a few activists like Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal in medical profession.

Dr. Jose K. Paul,


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