Marking the birth anniversary of legendary physician and second chief minister of West Bengal,Dr B C Roy,the medical fraternity observed Doctors Day on July 1. Acknowledging that observing a day dedicated to doctors fulfils a need to show them how important they are,Dr Aashish Contractor,Head of Department of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation,Asian Heart Institute,said,The doctor is also a family counselor.
Talking about the several roles a doctor has to play,he related an incident when a patient,Ramesh Thawani (name changed),was brought to him. The first time I saw Thawani after his bypass surgery,he was with his wife and looking rather happy for a person who had just been operated. He was a 58-year-old businessman,who clearly had type-A personality,and was itching to return to work. When I asked him the reason for his happiness,he looked at his wife and smugly replied,For all these years,she said I had no heart and now its proven that I have one,and it had to be fixed because of the worries she caused me. She gave him an equally sarcastic reply,and before I knew it I was in the middle of a full-blown mud-slinging match,and had to step in to defuse the situation, he recalled.
Dr Contractor confessed that it is not a one of case either. There are several times in the clinic when a doctor needs to be a peacemaker in family situations. My guess is that this occurs much more in situations of long-standing diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease),where frequent clinic visits are needed and there is a huge lifestyle component to these illnesses, he said. \
Another area of frequent conflict that he mentioned is work-life balance of the spouse (usually the husband). After an illness,the wife usually wants the husband to cut back on his working hours and/or delay going back to work. On the other hand,he wants to get back to work on the first day after returning from hospital,claiming that its only simple paperwork. Once again,the doctor needs to step in and work out a compromise formula. Of course,the trick is to make each one feel that they have achieved a moral victory,while accepting the compromise. In my opinion,the role of a doctor as family counselor is extremely important and when done correctly can increase patients compliance with treatment, he said.
Studies have documented that in chronic diseases a very large percentage of patients tend to either discontinue treatment or be extremely negligent about it. While there are several reasons for this,situations arising in the family do play an important role. Most doctors grow into this role with experience,since this subject is never touched upon during medical training.
Focussing on the future on the occasion of Doctors Day,Dr Hema Diwakar,president of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of India (FOGSI),said,Improving health services for women is part of the Vision 2022 initiative. As a first step in this direction,FOGSI in association with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO) has launched Helping Mothers Survive,aimed at reducing the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR).
FOGSI is the apex body for all obstetricians and gynaecologists in the country and unveiled its landmark Vision 2022 document,incorporating long-term initiatives aimed at building a healthy generation and ensuring overall wellbeing of women,including better healthcare services and societal perception. Dr Diwakar said the society hopes that saving the girl child should become a non-issue by the year 2022 and ensure that adolescent healthcare is in place as 360 million youth in India journey towards wellness with through anaemia eradication,sex education,vaccinations,contraception,and HIV/AIDS care.