Monday, 9 July 2012

Health Care in India: Vision 2030- Part II

(This article concentrates on the steps the government should implement to tackle the health issues using the resources available in our country. The next article will focus on creation of awareness and the steps each individual should take in making India healthy).

A health care model is designed to solve the health care issues in our nation in an effective and economic manner. The main aim of the proposed health care model is to make the government the BIG DADDY in the Health care industry so that each and every citizen of India gets efficient medical facilities irrespective of their economic, social and geographic barrier.

The government must realize that it cannot do the task of making India healthy alone as it does not have the infrastructure and facilities. A private-public partnership should exist in the Indian health care system. They must grant a license for the corporate hospitals to operate in the major cities. And this license should be granted only if the big shot medicos install a primary health centre in the nearby rural area that will work under a subsidized rate.

Highly skilled doctors are aplenty in our nation and the government must channel these invaluable resources in a proper manner. The doctors must also be granted a license to practice medicine in our year. They must be granted a license that will be renewed once a year only if they serve in rural areas for 52 days in a calendar year.

For this scheme to be implemented, a transparency in the medical system is in need that will ensure records are maintained properly.

India has making strides globally with medical tourism in our nation growing at 30% per year and the value is projected to escalate. The government must introduce Medical Inland Duty that requires medical tourists to pay 5% of the expenditure concurred by them for their treatment.
Nowadays, every single commodity that is available comes in the branded form and that includes medicines also. Due to a competitive market, the rivalry between pharmaceutical companies in a bid to overtake one another has resulted in the medicines becoming expensive.

The doctors must hereby prescribe Generic Medicines- i.e. medicines in their molecular form. The medical shops must also have a database of medicines that lists them in their generic and branded format categorically. This would mean that a person can go to the medicine shop and buy the medicines according to his economic standards.

The next step involved is to implement technology to effectively increase the standards of our health care system. One such upcoming technology is Telemedicine. The concept of virtual doctors combined with telemedicine facilities will ensure access to health care in remote areas. The primary health centers that are set up by corporate hospitals will be equipped with telemedicine. This will tackle the severe technical manpower faced in hospitals across the nation.

A main flaw in the current health care system is the lack of proper network. A Health Database must be set up across the entire nation that keeps a record of every patient. This database can be accessed with the help of a Health Card that is mandate for every citizen. In this way, we can avoid any repetition of investigations leading to a cost effective treatment procedure. The database will be interconnected across the various states for easier reference.

Our country must realize that in order to attain the tag of a developed country, the government must take pro-active steps in the best interests of the nation.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Health Care in India: Vision 2030- Part I

(This article concentrates on the health problems and issues in our nation. The next part will focus on the possible solutions for our health care system.)

As I am typing this article, 4 people die and an additional 2 are born.  This is the second most populated country in the world- India.
India is the diabetic capital of the world. 

Approximately, 1.6 million people of our enormous population are affected by the incurable AIDS. We rank 2nd in child malnutrition in the world and that is worse than many African countries. 665 million people in India excrete out in the open grounds. 100 million people in India suffer from hypertension and 31% of urban Indians are obese. 

And by 2030, India will be the most populated country on the planet.

This is health care in India in 2012. This is the stark reality. This is what we are facing. And this is what we need to change.

These are not just mere numbers and statistics- they reflect the naked truth and the pathetic situation our health system is in.

While one side of the nation gorges itself on burgers and pizzas, millions of people leave this planet unable to afford even a single meal. We boast of an array of multispecialty hospitals and world class surgeons yet people in our country die because they don’t have access to first aid.

India’s health care system is plagued by Manpower shortfall, low public expenditure, and weak infrastructure, lack of awareness, inadequate resources and dramatic lifestyle changes.

The reason why there are so many infected people in our nation is simply due to the fact that we do not have enough doctors; currently, there is a demand for 600,000 physicians and the numbers are projected to increase in the near future.

We produce countless number of medical graduates every year, yet they are not enough. This is because the population of our country is growing by the second in enormous proportions and hence, we do not have the educated manpower to tackle the issue.

Another problem is the exodus of doctors to the greener pastures abroad in search of a better lifestyle and working atmosphere.  Indian doctors form the largest percentage of non-native doctors across the entire world. If such a large number of doctors are bent upon making the other countries a healthy place, what will happen to our India?
The Indian medical system is short of proper funds from the government as it spends only 0.9% of the GDP. And this has resulted in poor facilities in hospitals- a deficit of 30 lakh beds.

Lack of awareness in rural areas has been a major issue for the multiplication of diseases. People do not know about sexual preventive measures or the necessity of proper nutrition and sanitation.

There has been a sudden surge in the occurrence of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension etc in the metropolitan cities. This is due to the adaption of the western way of living. We have aped their way of using branded apparels, high-end cars and fast food but we conveniently ignore their rigorous and religious approach to physical fitness and maintenance of health.

It is high time we address these rapidly growing health issues that are detrimental to the progress our nation.

We must understand that Health issues are not economically biased- diseases don't care whether you are rich or poor.

The majority of our population lives in rural areas while the remaining live in urban areas and both have their fair share of problems.

We must design an efficient health model that interlinks the urban and rural areas, implements technology and manpower effectively and economically profitable. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

+1, +2, plus a few thoughts- The education system

(This article is written in the wake of the strenuous education system (matriculation) in the state of Tamil Nadu.)

Few days back, the board results of the tenth standard students have been announced and they must prepare to enter the “most grueling/life turning” two years of their life- such is the importance of the higher secondary years in our education system. 

When the tenth results were announced, I happened to be in Namakkal- the so called educational belt of Tamil Nadu. On that particular day, the town witnessed a procession of cars that resulted in road blocks- anxious parents eager to enroll their children into these schools so that their future is secured. In their opinion, its just good marks, good marks and good marks alone.

But do marks alone form the basis of education? 

The purpose of the education system at the school level is to enrich the student with the basic knowledge in all sciences and to provide him an all round development that will establish a good launching pad for his further pursuits.

The current scenario of the +1 and +2 school years is bleak in our state. Students are subjected to two years of rigorous hard work where they are confined only to the covers of the books. Schools have changed from being “centers of learning” to “mark producing factories”. Students are merely treated as machines that are designed for the task of obtaining high marks.

In order to achieve this feat, many schools skip the +1 portions (which form the basis for education in colleges) and make the students study the +2 portions for two years. Students are made to write revision tests daily and mug the same again and again till they are able to reproduce (or vomit) in the board exams.  Such is the impact of these schools; parents are willing to shell out large stacks of cash to get their wards admitted.

These schools also admit only the students who attain high percentages in the 10th board examinations. For instance, this year at a certain school in Namakkal, students who got below 470 marks were denied admissions. And for those students who are admitted, they are separated into classes according to their marks (the better ones get better coaching and the lesser ones do not). Thus, they create a stark discrimination among the students which affects their psychology and performance to a great extent.

There has been a culmination of factors that has resulted in this situation. Education has become a very profitable business- with seats selling like hot cakes. The schools guarantee for good marks and hence the admissions keep on coming.

Poor quality of government schools is another major reason for this huge dominance of private players. Government schools in our state are devoid of infrastructure and hence experiences a lack in student strength.

And in this business oriented approach, education has become a race-where students have to edge each others out to make the cut and in the process, records are toppled every year. Sometimes, even a 96% score would not be sufficient for the creamy layer of colleges.

But, is this real success? Are we not losing something in the bigger picture?

The schools have shifted their focus of prime importance from “attainment of knowledge by the student” to “obtaining of marks”; the end result is that these schools churn out half baked students who have not gained complete knowledge and also lack in overall development. 

This is an area of huge concern that the state government needs to address quickly. The quality of government schools must be improve. The government schools should be equipped with furnished classrooms, laboratories with latest equipments, playgrounds, indoor stadiums, library and an arts center. Professional teachers must be given decent salary packages and the environment should be conducive for students. Free meals should be provided to the economically backward students.

if this scenario is to change, the government needs to become the big Daddy of education (as in the cases of UK, US) where people of all economic strata get a fair shot at the board exams. 

The curriculum must be revamped with importance meted out to physical fitness, various arts, sports and the overall shaping of the student.

True, marks are important. But are marks alone the criteria for a successful student? 

It is time our schools started producing successful students who can shape the future of the nation and make India a superpower in the coming years.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Indian Premier League- Why it continues to be a success?

The fifth edition of the multi-million dollar league has finally come to its end – and with a new winner (Yes, it’s not CSK again) – Kolkata Knight Riders; thanks mainly to Gambhir’s aggressive captaincy and the mystery spinner Narine and Bisla’s freakish antics on the D-day. One wouldn’t have heard this Bisla guy before the finals, but today he has become a hero- thanks to IPL.

Every year the IPL will also come under the scrutiny of the traditionalists who always clamor that T20 kills the game of cricket and it can never be real cricket. But time and again, the IPL has proved that it is here to stay.

What was the reason behind the success of IPL-5 ?

No true cricket fan would love to see a game that is completely dominated by the bat or the ball. Only when the contest becomes even, the match becomes interesting.

True, we would love to see the monstrous sixes from Gayle and the toe crushers from Malinga, but the game gets interesting only when we see a Steyn bowling Gayle or Dhoni helicoptering Malinga out of the ground.

And that is exactly what the IPL 5 has provided- an even contest between the bat and the ball.

When Dale Steyn proved scorching and almost unplayable, his team mate De Villiers carted him all over the park with his innovative scoop shots. Similarly, when Gayle intimidated with his towering sixes, Steyn disturbed his furniture without much fuss.

Whenever the batsmen dominated, the bowler came up with new tricks up his sleeve and vice-versa.

A classic example would the IPL final where much hype surrounded the mystery bowler Sunil Narine and how the CSK batsmen were going to negotiate him. But Raina used his feet cleverly and carted him all around and his final figures went wicket less.

And these close contests between the bat and ball have yielded a lot of last over finishes in the league.

It was refreshing to see Dravid show the world that it doesn’t require age or a slog fest to shine at the IPL. He showed that cricketers of his stature have no limitations and that they have the ability to adapt.

Another reason for the league’s success is its unpredictability. Cricket is a funny old game- and this year, it has been full of twists and turns. Pune Warriors had the strongest start before they faltered to the longest losing streak in IPL history. It will remain a mystery how RCB, power packed with the likes of Gayle and De Villiers failed to make it to the play offs. And CSK have proved time and again, that no one can write them off – with mediocre performances in the league stages and stepping up in the play offs and showing that they are champion material.

In the end, you also have to give it to the glamorous cheerleaders who dance in strange Bollywood moves irrespective whether they are winning or losing- cause that’s what they are paid for; and Sidhu’s proverbial antics and Danny Morrisons booming voice.  They are all part of the glittering package.

Because, its not just cricket- its pure entertainment. Like it or not, the IPL is here to stay!