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Doctors’ Day in India: Time for critical reflection for the medical profession

30 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

AnantBhanBhavnaDhingraIndia celebrates Doctors’ Day every year on 1 July, in memory of Bidhan Chandra Roy (1 July 1882-1 July 1962), a well respected physician who was also the second chief minister of the state of West Bengal. The day sees a fair bit of fanfare, with events held across the country, especially by bodies such as the Indian Medical Association. While the day serves to highlight the importance of medicine in society, it should also be an opportunity for medical professionals to reflect on their profession and the challenges facing it. more…

Tushar Garg: India’s medical curricula are abetting outdated constructions of gender and sexuality

24 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Tushar_Garg.2kbRecently, India Today exposed licensed medical practitioners in New Delhi offering conversion therapy to cure homosexuality. It is a sad reflection on the contemporary awareness of gender and sexuality that such quackery is still being practised with impunity.

The Pan American Health Organization has stated that such therapies lack medical justification and “constitute a violation of the ethical principles of healthcare and violate human rights that are protected by international and regional agreements.” The international classification of diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) also affirms that “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.” more…

Jocalyn Clark: Does it pay to pee? An Indian city thinks so

10 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Jocalyn_Clark1When in public, where to pee? This is a universal challenge with a surprising array of local solutions.

Last month Tahmima Anam, in her characteristically delightful New York Times column, revealed that Dhaka, Bangladesh, a city of over 15 million, has just five functional public toilets. The abundance of outdoor labourers and the endless traffic mean a lot of people spend a lot of time with nowhere to go. more…

Vijayaprasad Gopichandran: How can we measure patients’s trust in doctors?

4 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

vijayaprasadJum Nunnally, the much acclaimed author of “Psychometric Theory” the standard textbook of psychometrics, which has run into several volumes, says “an accurate method was available for measuring the circumference of the earth 2000 years before the first systematic measures of human ability were developed.”

He expresses surprise that psychometrics took so long to develop as a specialty. Scholars still debate on the scientific rigor of psychometrics and its validity in assessing ability. As a physician and public health researcher my forage into psychometrics is recent and I had a very fleeting affair with the field in my efforts to develop a scale to measure trust in doctors. more…

Aditya J Nanavati: Dealing with patients seeking “instant gratification”

3 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Aditya J NanavatiI must admit I feel immense joy when I see an instant message pop-up on my phone screen. I do not think it makes a difference whether it is a meaningful conversation or pure gossip. There is something very gratifying in receiving a response almost instantly. When I think a little more about this feeling I understand that technology today thrives on “instant gratification.” We now pay bills, make restaurant reservations, book travel online, and can google almost everything. The appeal is understandable. I suspect however this feeling has now percolated far beyond the digital universe. This feeling of instant gratification is almost as addictive as an illicit drug and we now seek it everywhere. I may not be the only doctor who has heard “Can’t you just give me one pill and make it better” Doctors, I believe, will increasingly face patients who seek this instant gratification from medicine as well. more…

Roshan Radhakrishnan: When “viral” is a good thing for a doctor

28 May, 15 | by BMJ

When I hit the publish button for my recent blogpost, nothing would have prepared me for what was coming. I would have gladly accepted the usual 400 views with a few dozen comments. 72 hours and 2 lakh views later, I found myself the centre of discussion on over a dozen news media outlets, both national and international.

In a country with a population of over 1.2 billion, having a doctor to patient ratio of 0.7 (as compared to United Kingdom’s 2.8) means that we are always going to be swamped with patients beyond a logical human capacity. When only 1% of the country’s GDP is allocated for public healthcare, it further cripples efforts to help those who need us the most. 100 hour a week work shifts, working with a lack of essential medicines or surgical instruments, and woefully disproportionate salaries are considered part of being in “the noble profession” here, but it stops being about selfless service when the issue of violence against doctors comes into the picture. more…

Vijayaprasad Gopichandran: Peer review from an author, reviewer, and editor’s perspective

14 May, 15 | by BMJ

I write this as someone who just recovered from a battle that lasted 2 years in an attempt to publish the findings of one of my research papers. Four journals and 10 sets of peer reviews later, a paper which was initially deemed unfit to publish has been accepted by a reputed, indexed, high impact journal. I want to share my experience of the peer review process from three different perspectives, as an author, a reviewer and an editor of two journals.

Peer review from the perspective of an author: more…

Mrunalini Gowda: How can researchers meet community needs?

11 May, 15 | by BMJ

M_gowdaThis blog is my reflection on regular field visits as part of the urban health action research project that I am currently working on. The field site for the project is a very poor neighbourhood of Bengaluru called K.G.Halli. This neighbourhood has families who earn their living as daily wageworkers to a few upper middle class families.

Let me give a brief overview of the project. It is an action research project which aims to improve access to quality healthcare especially for people with chronic conditions among the urban poor. As a project initiative, we identified three ladies from the same community and trained in providing awareness sessions for chronic conditions. These community health assistants have been working in the neighbourhood since 2009. They go door to door to deliver awareness sessions on diabetes and hypertension, to inform patients what the preventive measures are that the patient and the family can adopt on a daily basis, how diet plays an important role in managing their conditions, and the importance of regular medical check ups. These ladies are an important interface between the community and healthcare providers. Over the years they have become the “go-to” people to seek advice. more…

Maya Annie Elias: Tobacco control in India—more needs to be done to promote smoking cessation in India

24 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

mayaTobacco use is one of the single largest preventable causes of death and a leading risk factor for non-communicable diseases. The burden of tobacco related illnesses prompted the Government of India to initiate various measures for tobacco control. India adapted the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) and passed the “Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution)” Act in 2003. The National Tobacco Control Program (NTCP) was launched in 2007-08 and it listed a wide array of regulatory activities for tobacco control, including setting up the National Regulatory Authority (NRA), state and district tobacco control programmes, public awareness campaigns, establishment of tobacco testing laboratories, prohibition of smoking in public places, prohibition of advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products, prohibition of sale of tobacco products near educational institutions, and regulation of health warning in tobacco products packs. more…

Neel Sharma: Does the cost of using technology in medical education unfairly disadvantage developing countries?

14 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

Medical education reform has seen significant changes since the days of the Flexner report. What remains true are the rigorous entrance requirements, the scientific method of thinking, learning by doing, and the need to undertake original research (1). The advent of technology over the past decade and more has meant that learning by doing has taken on a whole new meaning. more…

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