The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Decay diagnosis for Medical College
- Visiting expert training local doctors, toning up proposed neurocare unit plans

A fair deal from medical practitioners and institutions is what visiting British surgeon Jan Jakubowski prescribed for patients to help revive Bengal’s healthcare system. The emeritus head of neurosurgery of Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, England, said this after a visit to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, whose present condition he claimed had “shocked” him.

Pointing out some signs of decay, like the poor being exploited by touts, doctors trying to direct patients to other hospitals and a wide gap of distrust between doctors and patients, Jakubowski said under-investment and neglect have been the root cause of the present situation of the institution. The surgeon recalled how “Calcutta Medical College and Hospital was the best in Asia during the British era and it used to be a prominent jewel of India then”, adding that it is older than a number of medical schools in England and it is “sad that now it is almost impossible to carry out an operation there”.

Jakubowski was in Calcutta on his fourth visit since April last year, to tone up the National Neuro Science Centre (NNSC) at Peerless Hospital and train the surgeons there. He had earlier met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, too.

“We have a plan to set up a neurosurgery institute in the city and we are taking his help in planning the Intensive Trauma Unit and operation theatre there,” said principal secretary (health) Asim Barman. A senior officer in the health directorate said Jakubowski had helped prepare the draft layout plan for the proposed neurosurgery unit. A working relationship has been established between the NNSC and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, whereby referred cases from the latter are being treated at the NNSC at rates on a par with that of the hospital.

Inspired by Calcutta-born and Newcastle-based neurosurgeon R.P. Sengupta, Jakubowski visits Calcutta to train surgeons at the NNSC, a non-profit organisation, and to help establish a set-up of international standards. “My role is to boost its level of expertise. Any delicate neuro procedure should be done here at the NNSC,” he said.

According to him, Calcutta lacks a coherent organisation. Modern, broad-based neurosurgery cannot be practised in isolation, since it requires a collective effort on the part of neuro anaesthetists, neuro intensive care unit, neuro radiology and a neurological laboratory and specialised medical staff.

Besides the NNSC, Bangur Institute of Neurology is the only other institution in Calcutta with the elaborate infrastructure required for specialised treatment, he pointed out. “An ailing person with a monthly income of Rs 1,000 should not be forced to pay Rs 1,200 for getting an MRI done,” he summed up.

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