A writer woke up in panic but felt relieved when felt it was only nightmare. He had gone back in time to being a young doctor, feeling helpless with high rate and mortality rates, a paediatric ward filled with children suffering from tuberculosis meningitis, polio, severe malnutrition and diarrhoea.
Today the scenario has vastly changed. The past ten years, especially, have seen rapid progress. We are now blessed with a growing economy and a huge, young population that is relatively healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the world our capacity to handle mega problems. With good leadership and active community participation, we became self-sufficient in terms of PPE, ventilators and vacancies. India@100 may see people recount Covid nightmares.
Now new challenges await us. These include climate change, the rising aspiration of the people, inequitable access to resources and the biggest challenge of all: health. India is predicted to be the capital of non-communicable diseases, cancers and deaths due to trauma. The challenges are humongous due to huge population of 1.35 billion, juxtaposed against a relatively inadequate public health system and the deep crevice separating the haves and have-nots. However envious that India@100 will have addressed all those woes humanly, efficiently and adequately. The need of day is a revolution to make India a world leader in health.
Provided we act now, the next 25 years will witness a big change in the health indices. For this, we need to collaborate and work together as a society and as a polity. These silos of medical association in colleges, life science research in laboratories and public health in government hospitals will need to be integrated collaboration with appropriate linkages through the opportunities lent by NEP 2020, National Digital Health Mission and most importantly in synchronization with the central and state governments.India@100 will then see a smoothly oiled machine where public health drives education and research.
Medical education today faces numerous challenges. The most critical of these are the mushrooming of medical, nursing AYUSH colleges, non-availability of dedicated faculty. We can overcome these drawbacks by using digital technology to reach the unreached students quickly and effectively. We can also align medical education to India’s heath care needs through integrated courses and creating a bigger and better pool of para-medical and nursing personnel on priority. It is also important to absorb the trained human resources into the workforce providing adequate compensation.
The aspirations of students need to be met with innovative solutions. For example, the district residency programme can be expanded to provide district PG programme with adjunct faculty from the public hospitals. This will improve the quality of care and also meet the aspiration of the students. Simultaneously, this will enhance the faculty pool and universities training additional adjunct faculty. Learning management system under various universities can provide equitable opportunities to students across the country. Students will have access to knowledge at their own time and pace. Collaborations with international universities for twinning, joint degree or dual degree programmes in a big population is a big opportunity that is available today.
India with its huge young population can become a provider of health care personnel to the world. Another change I can see happening is a blurring of line between engineering and medicine. While engineering and science institutions are setting up medical colleges which take longer to nurture, medical universities can effectively utilize data science, computing tools and inputs from designs schools to improve on innovation and bring problems from besides to bench in a shorter time to find solutions. Thus, India@100 may provide multiple degrees under one roof. (IPA Service)