Tick tock, tick tock! 

-Written by Dr. Ninada KC, Medical Officer, Namma Clinic, DHFW, Karnataka 

The hour of action is upon us 

The earth is dying and so are we

What is the pandemonium and fuss? 

It is climate change as we see. 

“You’re a doctor, tend to the sick, treat the ill 

What’s environment to you”, you say? 

But when the Healthcare is going downhill

Are there any saviors left at the end of the day? 

OP sheets and discharge forms fill the bin, Indiscrimated BMW flows into the lake

Drug resistant organisms are out for a spin

While the foundations of medicine are put on a stake! 

Healthcare collapse is a pandemic yet to befall, 

And sustainable medicare is our vaccine. 

For each doctor it is a tiresome, vital haul 

To ensure medicines are effective, clean and green. 

Not only our patients, but so is the earth-

Ours to treat and protect, 

Let us extend our healing hand along her girth, 

Rejuvenate her with love and much respect! 

The collapse of our healthcare is perhaps the greatest pandemic we shall face. Though faltering, our current system has almost sailed us through the ongoing COVID battle. However, with the expanding population, rapidly depleting resources and insensitive medical practices, luck may soon switch sides.

A robust healthcare infrastructure is one which ensures sustainability in terms of economy, long term outcomes, a healthy doctor-patient relationship and indeed the tax of health borne by the environment. But this healthcare is not handed to us, rather built and developed by the practising doctors- through every mindful decision we take towards sustainability.

For years, indiscriminate production and disposal of hospital, often toxic wastes, has taken its toll on nature. Adding on, are the carbon footprints of the various machineries.

While several of these are inevitable and unavoidable, what may be changed on a personal or public level is circumventing air-conditioners; perhaps by using insulators as per climatic needs of the geography- also cutting down at large the electricity usage.

A pressing need of the hour is the digitalization of patient data. This will not only reduce the humongous consumption of paper, but also ensure seamless access to patient records, avoiding repetitive/ misplaced tests, easing the process of patient transfer from hospital to hospital.

By standardising and normalizing telephonic consultation, we can go a long way in cutting down frequent travels, thereby reducing the fuel consumption and carbon release.

On that same note, bicycles and walking to work need to be brought into fashion by doctors  who do so themselves while advocating the same to their patients. With an undoubted fuel conservation comes the added benefit of a healthier lifestyle.

Lifestyle brings along with it a trail of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)- the diagnosis and treatment protocols of which need to be strictly adhered to. Lifestyle modification (LSM) needs to be our irrefutable first line of management- unless the severity so demands, which sadly is a rarity in current healthcare.

The initiation of a patient on medication for NCDs almost always mandates a lifetime of therapy, followed gradually yet closely, by drug induced hepato-renal compromises. It also puts us two steps back on our goal of a financially sustainable healthcare system. 

The gratuitous prescribing of medicines need to be addressed for two main reasons apart from the obvious financial burdens.

One, the workload it puts on the pharmaceutical companies and our exhausting resources. Two the rapid desensitization to drug.

This rapid drug tolerance needs to be halted, primarily when it comes to antibiotics. Drug resistant bacteria are a toll not for the individual but the community as a whole.

Another group of drugs that need close monitoring are the psychiatric drugs which are frequently over prescribed.

An effective way to halt drug tolerance/ resistance is to ensure patient compliance- which can be achieved by frequent monitoring/ checking in on the patient which does not necessarily need the hospital set up, thus also establishing a deeper, amiable doctor-patient relationship, making long term health goals achievable. 

One of the biggest leaps towards a sustainable healthcare has to come in the form of community level awareness, wherein every individual is educated enough to detect any changes in the regular physiology and equipped enough to approach a doctor for help. Certain emergency measures like CPR, tying a tourniquet, primary management of burns, breathlessness, stabilising the extremities etc need to be made public knowledge for a quicker, effective, scientific tackling of a situation. 

As a country, India needs to focus on equivalent drug development and manufacturing indigenously which will hopefully reduce the cost of medications with international patents. More youngsters need to get into the research field, working on what works best for the Indian population, taking into consideration our genetic build up, climate, cultural practices and religious beliefs. 

The greatest things a doctor can give their patient is hope, and a reason to trust. As practitioners, we need to be kind in our care, considerate in our prescriptions and accurate in our diagnosis. The best way to make our healthcare a sustainable one is to give every patient the time, care and respect that is due to each one, to make our patients feel heard and cared for.

Image Credits: 

  1. Google images
  2. American college of Healthcare Executives
  3. TriHealth

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