Post Corona Scenarios That A Chennai Doctor Envisions

The world in general and education, in particular, is at a crossroads. With COVID-19, many of our beliefs and the systems we follow are bound to change.

For instance, a gentle smile on the face of the doctor often reassures the patient. But after COVID-19, I am sure that my patients and I are both going to cover one-third of our faces, and we may lose the emotional connect between us.

More importantly, half the diagnosis is already made as a patient walks into the consultation chamber. And, like the gait of the patient, odour also was taught to be important: Alcoholic breath, ketoacidosis (diabetes triggerd acidity) breath, halitosis (bad breath) and so on. Now, the question is, how far can I insist on the importance of this to my students after COVID-19? I am sure that by not being able to correctly recognise the smell, millions of dollars will be lost the world over on other investigations.

I am also certain that in the post-COVID-19 era, there is going to be, at least, a 10 per cent hike in the costs incurred in all procedures including consultations, because much is going to be spent on protective gears.

How the poor are going to manage without, or even with, any government insurance scheme is a big question. Rather than dumping them on government hospitals only, I feel that corporate entities should be compelled to take on their treatment. They can make up for the loss by cross-subsidising treatments of patients with premium insurance policies, or when the patients themselves are VIPs.

India has emerged as a country that has tackled the COVID-19 pandemic with relatively less morbidity and mortality. And, considering how the disease has changed opinions worldwide on China’s role, it may be an opportunity to concentrate on medical tourism and focus on encouraging foreign students to come to India for education in general, and medical education in particular. Such medical tourism will help bring in resources for my poor countrymen so we can treat them better.

This is the first time that the skills imparted by our social and preventive medicine (SPM) departments are being tested. I am aware that this particular branch of medicine is less sought after, and it is seen to be more bureaucratic in nature in our country. I am sure that this pandemic is going to significantly alter our perception of branches like SPM, entomology and virology.

Every medical and surgical procedure has been reoriented to the whims and fancies of the corona era which will affect the training imparted to our young medical graduates at least for some time. I

I hope that the pandemic and its impact on public health, the associated economic depression and industrial layoffs, may attract young people to medical education with renewed vigour.

However, the increasing influence of corporates in the health sector and the industrialisation of healthcare delivery has meant that doctors — the nucleus of the health system earlier — have been pushed to the periphery. Market forces have taken over the centrestage.

But health was never sold as a commodity in our ancient tradition, and therefore, market forces can’t be the nucleus of the health sector — at least in this part of the world. Let us understand this and try to Indianise the modern health system in a way that is aligned with our needs and culture.

From an INDIAN EXPRESS (June 9) article by Dr.Subbiah Shanmugam, Professor and Head of Department for surgical oncology at KMC Chennai and National President of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad

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