The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Surjya SOS to doctors from America

Calcutta, Oct. 22: Soul-baring and a foray into the world of wish fulfilment took centrestage today as health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra pleaded with top-notch neuro-oncologists from the US and Canada to “guide and advise” the state government in its attempts to reform the sector.

The man frequently confronted by doctors who feel no neuro-oncologist, no way the NRIs working in developed countries, would come here unless working conditions, work-culture, infrastructure and remuneration improved, said the government is keen on following suggestions. But Mishra admitted that his hands were tied and not all that the doctors wanted could be provided.

During an interface with neuro-oncologists from India and abroad at the inauguration of an international symposium at the radiotherapy department of Medical College and Hospital, Mishra gave an idea of the government’s compulsions as far as health sector reforms were concerned.

Try as it might, the government would not be able to implement many of the talent-drawing schemes in Bengal, he said.

First, however, came the pleas that took the physician community — under fire of late, like the teachers, from the very top of the government — by surprise.

“Please give us collective guidance and advice in the form of a proposal on what needs to be done here,” the health minister said a day after more bad news — multiple deaths at the paediatric ward of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital — greeted the government. “You are experts in your respective fields and have the requisite knowledge to help us,” Mishra said.

He admitted that the “inadequacies” of medical education and the health services system were responsible for the shoddy state of healthcare facilities across the state.

But, he claimed, things are changing. The government has realised the benefits of private participation in health and its key constituents are being encouraged to help in forming “centres of excellence” in state-run hospitals.

Shuttling to the wish-fulfilment mode, Mishra said the government is keen to create centres of excellence in cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, nephrology and neurology. “We need private parties to play an active role to give our plans a boost.” The government is already holding talks with Westbank for a super-speciality neuro-surgery centre at SSKM, Mishra said.

The minister admitted that the issues raised by the doctors after they were asked to list their “top three wishes” — better infrastructure, work-culture, working conditions and remuneration — were relevant.

He also admitted that the state could not match the pay doctors got in the West. “But we can send more doctors abroad for fellowships and other training programmes,” he said.

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