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Editorial June-July 2008 - Contributions to the Development of Emergency Medicine in India

Contributions to the Development of Emergency Medicine in India

Go to an emergency medicine conference in the US and mingle into posh NRI crowd. The most common question asked by people is Does Emergency Medicine exist in India? You are likely to hear the answer coming from an Indian living in the US that EM does not exist in India, but we are doing everything we can to bring the specialty to that country.

Our newest specialty in the field of medicine and trauma has many self proclaimed owners. They speak of a scenario which existed more than a decade ago and many of them have never even stepped into India recently.

Emergency medicine and allied services is a multibillion dollar industry for a country. You are very wrong if you think that affiliation to an Institute in US comes for free and that they are supporting us. Indian institutes have the capacity to pay in hundreds of thousand of dollars per year for affiliations and this is pure business.

Getting known or occupying a top position at an early stage will reap benefits later. Various individuals and organisations make monetary contributions to Indian EM conferences and then stake claim for the development of EM in India. There is no denying that representation by NRI & native Indians at major EM gatherings has brought our country into the limelight. But these are the very same people who are still blind to the changing state of EM in India.

More than a handful of institutes in India have been carefully nurturing the growth of EM and allied services without any major external help.

Why is it that the EM physicians from US, like Dr. Roger Van Arsdell who come in their own capacity to volunteer work for years in our emergency departments, never recognised?

Why isnt the Mayo institute which fully sponsored its EM training program for Indian residents, recognised?

Why arent the attendings from US who are flying back and forth every month contributing to local training programs, recognised?

Why is it that the institutes in Australia which trained the first Indian emergency physicians are still not known?

Why are the founders of the Society of Emergency Medicine in India forgotten?

Why is it assumed that the 300 SEMI and 100 NEPI members are not contributing to Indian EM?

Why are the institutes which developed the first independent emergency departments in India like Christian Medical College Vellore, Apollo Hospitals Hyderabad, SRMC Chennai & St. Johns Hospital Bangalore, more that a decade back, looked down upon?

Why arent the voluntary and professional EMS organisations that have been functioning in India for the many years like National Network of Emergency Services (NNES), Lifeline Foundation, Sanjeevini, Highway Rescue Project & EMRI, not visible?

Why arent the small institutes which have been teaching CPR and Life Support courses for years, not acknowledged?

Why arent the trauma and disaster courses which have been imparting the correct ATLS based training for years, encouraged?

Why arent the EM physicians who are working in emergency departments fighting for EMs identity in their own hospitals, not recognised?

Why arent our EM physicians who are lobbying with the MCI and DNB boards on a daily basis asking for the recognition of the specialty of EM, recognised?

These are the people who are influencing, facilitating, revolutionizing and ensuring the continued growth of emergency medicine in our country. And these are people who know that the future path of EM in a country as diverse as ours will be far different from what USA or UK have followed.

I think it is time to admit that the contributions for the growth of emergency medicine in India are coming from more than one organization; both from within our own ranks and from lesser known institutes in other countries.

Let it be known that India is not a war torn or crippled nation which desperately needs external help. Neither is emergency medicine in India. So the next time someone says he or his organization is responsible for bringing EM into India, try not to yawn!

Dr. Imron Subhan
July 2008

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