Mamata Banerjee should look beyond the election manifesto so far as the health sector is concerned if the Trinamool Congress comes to power, said a number of top doctors in the city.
Instead of merely increasing the number of government-run medical colleges (Banerjee has promised to take up the number from 10 to 17), the party that comes to power should consider opening more private medical colleges with the latest equipment.
"Many students step out of the city to take up medical courses outside the city. They also invest substantial money in these courses. If they can stay back in Bengal to study, one can expect that they will stay back in the state to practise medicine," said Ramanna, bariatric surgeon, BMI. That way the brain drain of doctors from Kolkata could be stopped.
Some doctors admitted that public sector healthcare in Bengal is inadequate and needs to be given a fillip by the political party that forms the new government. "Whether the medical colleges are state-owned or built on the private public sector partnership model, one hopes it will offer affordable treatment to the people of Bengal. With people getting more conscious about health, the number of doctors and state-of-the-art hospitals need to expand rapidly," said Ramesh Agarwala, general surgeon at Fortis Hospital.
There is also the problem of patients migrating to Mumbai and Chennai for treatment. As far as private hospitals are concerned, good infrastructure and the latest equipment will encourage patients to get their treatment in the city instead of travelling to other metros.
"In state-run hospitals, emergency patients have to lie on the floors, awaiting treatment. This should change. Also, a doctor like me would want to work in a good public sector hospital perhaps on moderate pay provided the infrastructure is good," said Agarwala.
A senior orthopaedic surgeon, Indrajit Sardar, who works in both government and private sectors told HT that an increase in the number of medical colleges in both cities and rural areas of Bengal would actually reach treatment to the "poorer sections" who cannot afford to travel to other metros for healthcare.
"Setting up a hospital is an expensive proposal. Though I'm all for more state-run medical facilities, they may not be financially viable," Sardar said.