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Think Change Forum Advocates for Revival of Indian Medical Services

The Think Change Forum (TCF), a leading independent think tank, recently convened a panel discussion titled "Is it time for India to resurrect Indian Medical Services?" The insightful discourse emphasized the urgent need to fortify the public healthcare system and underscored the pivotal role that Indian Medical Services (IMS) can play in achieving this objective.

Comprising representatives from medical associations, public sector health institutions, and the private medical sector, the panel included esteemed names such as Dr. Sharad Agarwal, National President of the Indian Medical Association (IMA); Dr. Varuna Pathak, Former Professor of Gynecology & Obstetrics at Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal; and Dr. Sita Naik, Professor and Head of the Department of Clinical Immunology at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, among others.

Central to the discussion was the proposition for the establishment of an elite cadre for medical experts under IMS, akin to the esteemed Indian Administrative Services (IAS). Experts articulated several compelling arguments in favor of this proposal, highlighting its potential to rejuvenate the public health sector, stem brain drain from public medical services, and foster superior healthcare outcomes through seamless coordination between states and the center.

Dr. Rajesh Gupta, Additional Director of Pulmonology & Critical Care at Fortis Healthcare, Noida, shed light on the prevailing reliance on the private sector for healthcare services, citing statistics indicating substantial inpatient admissions and outpatient visits in private facilities. Dr. Varuna Pathak echoed these sentiments, attributing systemic failures in healthcare to bureaucratic hurdles rather than healthcare professionals' shortcomings.

Pointing to challenges in staffing the public healthcare system with skilled doctors, experts emphasized the imperative of establishing IMS to attract and retain the best medical talent. Dr. Sharad Kr Agarwal underscored the promise of IMS in enhancing service quality and addressing persistent doctor shortages, especially in rural areas.

The panel also stressed the necessity of integrated health leadership, emphasizing the importance of leaders with both clinical expertise and management capabilities to efficiently manage healthcare systems at all levels. Dr. Sita Naik advocated for the transformation of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) into an all-India service in the form of IMS.

Furthermore, experts highlighted the urgent need to avert growing health crises by enhancing preventive healthcare delivery at the primary level. Dr. Vidur Jyoti emphasized the importance of knowledge acquisition, deployment, and application in healthcare, stressing the role of dedicated medical service officers in effectively managing complexities.

The TCF panel discussion offered a compelling case for the revival of Indian Medical Services, envisioning a future where personalized, efficient, and equitable healthcare is accessible to all citizens. Through concerted efforts and strategic reforms, India can pave the way for a robust and resilient healthcare system that meets the diverse needs of its population.

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