Disha Eye Hospitals, an initiative of four doctors, was launched on May 1, 1997, with the aim to provide quality and affordable eyecare. With its main office in Gariahat, its other three branches are Barrackpore, Sheoraphuli and Behala.
Dr Debasish Bhattacharya, Founder Chairman of Disha Eye Hospitals, is a distinguished practitioner and innovator in the field of Ophthalmology. He also happens to be the president of the All India Ophthalmological Society (AIOS). In an interview, Bhattacharya shares his insights, touching upon the precautions one must take during Covid. Excerpts:
Bhattacharya completed his MS degree from RIO, Medical College, his MBBS from Nilratan College, Barrackpore. Back then, government services were limited, and because he didn’t get any job, he started practising at a local eyecare shop in Barrackpore. In 1988, he began venturing into intraocular lens, which became the turning point of his life. “I got the right thing at that time. It becomes your duty to give back when you are lucky to get so much,” says Bhattacharya.
To overcome Corona overnight was not possible by the medical team of India, but the decision that was taken by the government, in the form of lockdown, was praiseworthy. His personal feedback is that India, being a tropical country and not a temperate one, is exposed to a lot of infections. In viral infections, aged people have been dying or even those with less immunity. Those who are strong in both inherited genetics and cultivated immunity have been able to pull it off. According to Bhattacharya, our genetics are tenacious enough to combat this disease. As months passed, people became serious about Covid and took precautions to fight the virus, maintained social distance and used sanitisers frequently. Hoardings were put up everywhere to create awareness while announcements in public transports were a daily routine.
India is the largest life member organisation in the world of ophthalmology; which has a listed membership of 23,000 ophthalmologists. As many complained that India has inadequate facilities, Dr. Bhattacharya begged to differ and maintained “as an ophthalmologist, we rub shoulder to shoulder with entire America and Europe”. If there are top 10 awards in European or American academies over a period of three years, out of 30, 10 of them come to India.
Turning the table
There are only 1.2 crore policies by which the 10 crore population is covered, with 2 crore in the insurance sector whether it’s private or government. The entire covered population in facilitated care is very low. It is just about 10 crore. According to him, 50 percent of the population can afford insurance, looking at the economic structure.
Insurance cover or health cover
People should understand that insurance is more important than health cover. If someone from the family falls sick, the insurance will take care of the matter. It is the best answer as many people cannot afford the health system. The income of one month in a family should be spent on health care. “Insurance is the best policy for a family,” added Bhattacharya.
Ophthalmology is about curing cataracts, blindness. First, the patient is tested properly and then treated accordingly. “We have been taught in school that we depend on farming for food, but now farming has 4-5 percent of our total economy. There has been a huge urban migration from the rural areas. For the past 12 years, there has not been any active statistics on the current state of blindness in India because a lot of progress has been made.” Bhattacharya’s personal experience in Disha Eye Hospital is it is the largest corneal treatment facility in India and the only revival cornea clinic in the eastern region. In 2019, it realised that figures have gone down by 5 percent in terms of transplant intervention, meaning ‘not required’ but “we see that that 20 hundred people of the eastern region have been affected by corneal blindness”. Essentially, a part that may be incurable. Sometimes the case goes out of hand and nothing can be done. “Treatment should be provided to the cornea-affected patient before it goes out of control,” he said.
Basic notes on Coronavirus
The only places that need to be covered are the mouth and the nose. If you are infected, you are contaminating a surface without knowing that you are already infected by the virus and somebody else is touching the place you contaminated, so the next thing to happen is that from you, the virus travels to another person without your knowledge. To avoid and stay protected from Coronavirus, the best way is to wear a mask and not touch it until you are washing yourself from head to toe. As normal citizens are used to wearing masks, sometimes they might feel suffocated but one should not let the virus get in and the mask has to be put on at all times. While we eat, we have to open the mask, and the trick is to open it by the strings and not touch the area of your nose and mouth. At the end of the day, wash the mask with an antiseptic, wash yourself clean, brush your teeth, wipe your entire body with a towel and lastly, wipe your face.