Emergency medicine in India: why are we unable to 'walk the talk'?Emerg Med Australas. 2007 Aug; 19(4):289-95.EM
The largest democracy on earth, the second most populous country and one of the most progressive countries in the globe, India, has advanced tremendously in most conventional fields of Medicine. However, emergency medicine (EM) is a nascent specialty and is yet to receive an identity. Today, it is mostly practised by inadequately trained clinicians in poorly equipped emergency departments (EDs), with no networking. Multiple factors such as the size of the population, variation in standards of medical education, lack of pre-hospital medical systems and non-availability of health insurance schemes are some of the salient causes for this tardy response. The Indian medical system is governed by a central, regulatory body which is responsible for the introduction and monitoring of all specialties--the Medical Council of India (MCI). This organisation has not recognized EM as a distinct specialty, despite a decade of dogged attempts. Bright young clinicians who once demonstrated a keen interest in EM have eventually migrated to other conventional branches of medicine, due to the lack of MCI recognition and the lack of specialty status. The Government of India has launched a nationwide network of transport vehicles and first aid stations along the national highways to expedite the transfer of patients from a crash site. However, this system cannot be expected to decrease morbidity and mortality, unless there is a concurrent development of EDs. The present article intends to highlight factors that continue to challenge the handful of dedicated, full time emergency physicians who have tenaciously pursued the cause for the past decade. A three-pronged synchronous development strategy is recommended: (i) recognise the specialty of EM as a distinct and independent basic specialty; (ii) initiate postgraduate training in EM, thus enabling EDs in all hospitals to be staffed by trained Emergency physicians; and (iii) ensure that EMs are staffed by trained ambulance officers. The time is ripe for a paradigm shift, since the country is aware that emergency care is the felt need of the hour and it is the right of the citizen.