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‘Infrastructural development, seamless access to hospitals crucial for improved public health’

Dr Sujit Kar Purkayastha, MD of Peerless Hospital, discusses the importance of tech-driven facilities, their scope and maximum utilisation, touching upon the need to set up more medical colleges and hospitals to impart better training to aspiring doctors, nurses and professionals related to the healthcare sector. Excerpts: 

Dr Sujit Kar Purkayastha, MD of Peerless Hospital

Q. Do you think digitisation is having some effect on the rapidly growing dynamic healthcare sector? With increased access to the Internet and tech-driven facilities, where do you think the healthcare industry is heading to? 

A: Technology is the most talked about topic these days. We deliberate a lot on artificial intelligence and tech-driven facilities but all this will only make sense when there is unanimous utilisation of it across the country. There should be an equal exchange of dialogue where technology should be known by one and all, where both the patient party and the doctor has a fair amount of knowledge about it. In India, most of the doctors are not so trained in technology-driven healthcare facilities, neither are the people well aware of the same. Therefore, if you try to import facilities from a first world country to a third world or developing nation, the exchange of dialogue will not be the same. Before we move towards a tech-driven healthcare system and adapt imported technology, it is important for us to understand how and where to use the same to its fullest and everyone should have adequate knowledge about it.

Q. Tell us about the latest developments in the gastro department and its advanced facilities at Peerless Hospital? 

A: At Peerless Hospital, we have all the latest and most equipped technology with all the facilities, which is required in the gastroenterology field and department, besides endoscopy to colonoscopy to ultrasound and many more. We have the whole spectrum of technology here. We also have DNB (Diploma in National Board) in Gastroenterology, which is a super-speciality training programme for all aspiring doctors in this hospital itself. Five doctors have also passed this course from here and are practising as gastroenterologists. It’s is a Post-Graduate training and therefore, we focus on having all the latest facilities to provide the best training and treatment to patients. 

Peerless Hospital

Q. A lot of doctors still prefer to go outside and practice. What facilities do you feel that the Indian healthcare industry should imbibe from abroad to sustain itself?

A: Speaking of my experience, when I went to the UK in 1979, we discovered something very different. We realised that our theoretical knowledge was very strong but our attributes and attitude were not correct. Communication is an art and it becomes all the more important with respect to patients. Unfortunately, we realised that we did not know that art. So our primary learning at the National Health Service was to teach communication. We must try more to identify our professional expertise and not our technical skills. However, we should learn to balance both. 

Q. The industry is growing at a rate of about 15-16 per cent every year and is expected to sustain this pattern. It may be pertinent here to make a distinction between healthcare and the industry in particular in respect to India. Why do you think this is important?

A: When we started practising medicine, we were taught ‘to care for the sick and the needy’ and that was healthcare. But over a period of time, people suddenly realised that healthcare is a potential area as an industry. Now, healthcare has shifted from ‘care for the people’ to care for investors and commercial people, from where it has become synonymous with profit and loss along with ROI (Return On Investment). Gradually, we are compromising with healthcare in India, which is not correct. Healthcare is what the doctors want but businessmen are keen on the industry.

Peerless Hospital logo

Q. Nowadays, many young men and women suffer from several gastro related ailments. What are your suggestions for people out there? 

A: The simple rule is to do everything within your limits because anything in excess will affect your body. Avoiding street food, junk food and an excessive amount of salt and sugar are some simple steps. Apart from that, exercise is a must. 

Q. In the last few years, we have witnessed some efforts from the government like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that has been long overdue. We must concentrate on public health issues much more aggressively if we seriously wish to improve our healthcare system. How can effective healthcare governance be created to deal with public health issues?

A: In terms of public health, the most important factor is infrastructural development. The government must try to meet the needs of the people. We have waited for 70 long years to get basic healthcare facilities in India. But we, as a community, have worked towards attaining cleaner toilets and safe drinking water. Immunisation must be aggressively advertised to create more awareness. The government should come up with stricter vigilance to prevent infant mortality. Also, access to hospitals must be granted to all in a seamless manner. Epidemics like dengue, malaria are affecting the masses, so proper awareness must be there. Honestly, there are numerous cases of public health issues that need to be addressed and concerted efforts will definitely lead to better results. 

Dr Sujit Kar Purkayastha at the National Conference on SMA

Q. There has been a great deal of improvement in the healthcare sector in West Bengal, both in the private and public sectors. Many new hospitals for acute care have been established in tier 2/3 cities. Even after witnessing a flurry of developments, we are lagging behind. What should be our focus at this moment in order to improve? 

A: We need more medical colleges, trained doctors, nurses and professionals, without compromising on healthcare. Eastern India is the third-largest populous state where the population outnumbers hospitals and doctors. But if we look at the South, especially in Karnataka, we have 60 medical colleges and hospitals, but in Kolkata, we can hardly count. So, here lies a huge disparity between eastern India and South India. We must try to create more trained doctors, professionals and nurses through proper training, set up more medical colleges and hospitals.

Q. What are the future prospects of the Peerless Hospital to enhance its infrastructure and healthcare facilities?

A: Two things are ready to be introduced soon. Firstly, we are planning to open a cancer wing where affordable treatment will be provided without escalating too much cost, which usually goes beyond the reach of the common man. We try to cater to everyone, so we will be cautious about the rates in order to try and make cancer care affordable. Secondly, we are planning to open a medical college within the premises of the hospital to provide medical and nursing education to all.

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