The Indian medical fraternity was appreciated for the yeoman service rendered to the people under very difficult conditions with great distinction by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.
Addressing the Combined Annual Meeting of The Asian Society for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and Indian Association of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgeons (CTCOMCON), 2010 here Singh said: "The medical fraternity in our country has been serving our people under very difficult conditions with great distinction."
"We are very proud of the reputation our doctors have earned both in the country and in every part of the world. I am one of those who has personally benefitted enormously from the expertise and skills of our doctors, especially cardiothoracic surgeons," he added.
In his address, Singh stressed on the need to meet the requirement of fast changing life style due to rapid social, economic and demographic change.
"India is undergoing rapid social, economic and demographic change. With increasing life expectancy, fast urbanization and changing lifestyles, there are newer challenges on the horizon involving public health that we must meet," he said.
"One of these challenges is the increased incidence of heart and blood vessel diseases among our population. These diseases affect all social classes, with the poor being particularly vulnerable. Coronary heart disease is also manifesting itself in much younger age groups than in the past," he added.
It has been estimated that India lost about 9.2 million potentially productive years of life in 2000, due to premature deaths caused by cardiovascular disease in the age group of 35-64 years.
Manmohan Singh said that premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease pose a major health problem in India.
There is growing consensus within the medical fraternity that urgent measures need to be taken both from the preventive point of view as well as in relation to cardiac surgical care.
"The primary long-term strategy to cope with heart and blood vessel diseases should clearly be preventive in nature. We know that many of these diseases can be prevented or at least delayed to a very late age. In recent years, there has been increasing social awareness about health related issues," Singh said.
"This is a positive development and the growing health consciousness particularly among young people is a big resource for those who manage public health care. But there is also sometimes a problem of information overload. People sometimes get confused by the plethora of information and advice that is available in the mass media," he added.
Singh further said that given the rapid pace at which medical science is progressing, there is a need for enhanced patient education so that he or she can make informed choices in consultation with the doctor.
While preventive efforts are of paramount importance, there will still be many who will need to undergo surgery for correction of their heart or blood vessel disease.
Cardiac surgery is becoming more and more specialized and mechanized as rapid advances in technology transform medical diagnostics and treatment methods. That cannot, however, take away from the skills of the individual surgeon or the collective commitment of the surgical team, which are the vital ingredients of surgical success.
"Perhaps even more important is the compassion of a caring surgeon that can never be replicated by a robot. On behalf of the multitude of patients, I would like to salute all the doctors gathered here today for their skill, for their commitment and for their dedication to their profession," Singh said.
Manmohan Singh said the Government of India accords very high priority to the health care in our country.
"We are working sincerely to make a success of the National Rural Health Mission, which is a flagship programme of the Government. The mission is using innovative and decentralized approaches to public health with strong involvement of the local community. During our present five year plan period, we have increased the allocation to health by three times," Singh said.
He also urged cooperation of medical fraternity in the health care schemes launched by the Government.
"I do recognize that our ambitious plans for the health sector cannot be realized unless there is a substantial expansion in the number of health care professionals," Singh said.
"We are working on this aspect and the Government will facilitate a rapid expansion of the human resource infrastructure in the health sector. I believe we will have to look at creative ways of tilizing the services of practicing professionals to overcome the shortage of teachers in this vital sector. I do hope that some of these issues will find place in your deliberations," he added.