FamPhy Pioneer, Dr.Soumik Kalita Pushing for a Person Centric Family Physician Based Healthcare Model for India
by Admin 2021-06-28 04:52:59 Healthcare
At a time when the trend in the country is towards super specialty and tertiary care hospitals, branded doctors and more and more specialty doctors, there are those who have been questioning the directions medical service has been taking in India. To what extent does this trend serve the health care needs of India’s large and teeming population, most of whom constitute from the middle class to the poor.
One such doctor, passionately concerned over the health needs of the majority of our population, is Dr Soumik Kalita, who has been a strong advocate for the revamping of the primary health care system in India. He feels that investing mainly in tertiary care is not the solution for addressing the health care needs of our population. Dr Kalita wrote in his blog, “Tertiary care is less than 5% of the total health care needs of the people of India but consumes 90% of the resources”. Today the primary health care physicians who are responsible for filtering around 90% of the ailments are becoming a diminishing species and is also not part of the government’s agenda, he complains.
According to Dr Kalita in a typical Indian average household, an illness can be disastrous for the whole family. Even though there are government run public hospitals they are inadequate, and medical treatment, he says, is beyond the reach of millions in the country even after 70 years of independence.
“As a medical entrepreneur trying to create a sustainable business model, I sometimes feel like a mute onlooker to the obvious apathy around me”, he lamented.
Passion to Revive Primary Healthcare & Concept of Family Doctor
Despite the odds and the lack of encouragement, in pursuit of his passion to revive primary health care delivery in India he left his job as a Director in a multinational company to start FamPhy (www.famphy.com) – abbreviation for family physicians – which is a network of family physicians that work on the principle of “whole person medicine”.
Dr Kalita feels that since the over specialisation of doctors is creating a huge void in primary health care delivery, he is working to help doctors remain as GPs and training them in “person centered care” rather than a “system centered care”.
FamPhy is trying to revive the concept of the family doctor. They have built a network of qualified physicians trained in evidence based medicine who do home visits.
Dr Kalita remarked, “A home doctor to be successful has to abandon the ego or atleast manage the ego as he/she goes from one house to another to provide medical care. This job has been a great leveller for me on the personal front”. Dr Kalita quipped, “The job of a travelling doctor is interesting and unlike doctors bound by the four walls of their clinic or hospital, I have the privilege to see the lives of people from very close quarters, for a doctor it means that I am near enough to not only take care of the clinical aspect of the patient but also to understand the patient – as a person- in the social context of medical issues”.
Parents, His Inspiration
Dr Soumik, derives his inspiration from his doctor parents who retired from senior positions in the government of India. His parents worked in the remotest corners of India like Arunachal Pradesh (erstwhile NEFA) where there were hardly any motor able roads. There were days when his father would be out trekking with his team for weeks to remote villages to treat and immunise people. He had seen his parents manage the most difficult of cases where one of them would perform a surgery and the other would administer anaesthesia. His elder sister also followed on the footsteps of their parents and this motivated him also to appear for the medical entrance examination and study at the Guwahati Medical College in his home state of Assam. He went on to do his master’s degrees from CMC Vellore and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Beginning of His Career
Dr Soumik Kalita started his professional career in the late 1990s as a rural health doctor in a remote village in Gujarat, incharge of all heath related activities in the 30 villages under the jurisdiction of the Primary Health Centre. As a medical officer, one is responsible for implementing all national level health programs like immunization, family planning, leprosy eradication or the national TB programs. He was deputed as the zonal officer for liaison of work for the developmental programs in the district. This stint helped shape not only his future professional career but also helped him gain immense insight to rural healthcare in India. He has an experience of more than 20 years in several aspects of healthcare ranging from being a medical officer in a primary health centre in rural India, to being the first research scientist with the South Asian Cochrane Network & Centre. Dr Soumik Kalita was the founder of Prima Clinics which was the first chain of family practice clinics in India. He has worked as the Director of Nutrition & Medical Affairs, Family Nutrition in Glaxo SmithKline, an Associate Professor at SANCD under the aegis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Apart from his degree in medicine he has been trained in Critical Care Medicine, Family Medicine, Hospital Administration and was a Legacy Heritage scholar for the Masters of Public Health programme at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has also been trained in cardiovascular epidemiology and community oriented primary care. He has trained several health care professionals in epidemiology, evidence based health care and research methods. His main areas of interests are family medicine, lifestyle medicine, chronic disease epidemiology, systematic reviews of healthcare interventions and public health systems. Dr Kalita is a faculty of CMC Vellore where he trains doctors in India in Family Medicine. He is a faculty for the MBA Healthcare programme of RUDN University of Moscow and an examiner for masters’ students in the field of nutrition at SNDT University Mumbai.
Having worked in almost all aspects of healthcare from public health, primary health care, tertiary healthcare, research as well as in the industry, Dr Soumik has gained a huge insight into the field of healthcare which helps him to dabble between active clinical practice, healthcare research and entrepreneurship.
He is a long distance runner, a cyclist and also practices lifestyle medicine.
Dr Soumik has more than 50 peer reviewed international publications and has been a speaker at several national and international medical conferences. He has been featured in several newspapers and journals as a researcher, healthcare provider and an entrepreneur.
Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."
They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
A wise man who was passing by calmly explained to them, "All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all those features what you all said."
This is the story of medical practice in India with overt specialisation with everyone looking at the human body and its problems from their angles.
FamPhy - The Family Physician Network brings the wise man to your homes to treat you holistically.
You wake up in the morning and rush to your bathroom vomiting and you feel diarrhea coming in too. Rewind back to yesterday and you remember the delicious street foods you gorged on and the restaurant you had dinner at, followed by the ice cream and desserts at your favourite street cart. The sin of eating indiscriminately is finally catching up as you retch some more. Any of those things you feasted on could have been contaminated with all kinds of viruses, bacteria or pathogens. You were guilty of not insisting on clean and sanitary practice by that food vendor and the verdict is you have been poisoned. You are suffering from food poisoning.
Food poisoning is a very common disease and it is a given fact that every person will suffer from food poisoning at least once. Food poisoning occurs mainly due to the presence of bacteria (E.coli, listeria, salmonella), parasites (toxoplasma) and viruses ( norovirus, sapovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus and hepatitis A virus).
Some common symptoms of food poisoning are :
1. Abdominal cramps
4. Loss of appetite
5. Mild fever
Sometimes food poisoning can turn life threatening. Symptoms of deadly food poisoning are :
1. Diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days.
2. Fever that is higher than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Difficulty in seeing or speaking
4. Severe dehydration which may include dry mouth, passing little or no urine and difficulty keeping fluids down
Complications can arise in people with vulnerable and weak immune systems like those affected by HIV/AIDS, cancer, pregnant women, elderly people, babies, people who take immunosuppressant drugs or long term medication like steroids, antihistamines or antibiotics.
Treatment of food poisoning can be done at home and resolve within 3 to 5 days. One should stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and get plenty of rest. Drink energy drinks with electrolytes, fruit juices, and coconut water.
However, it is advisable to consult your doctor and get a speedy recovery with prescribed medicines because if the symptoms worsen one might have to go to the hospital for IV drips. A very serious case of food poisoning may require a longer hospitalization.
Consult your doctor to prevent the symptoms from worsening and a smooth recovery.
With technological advancements in the 21st century, we are surrounded by digital screens all the time, be it computers, laptops, smartphones or tablets. The unrestrained use of these devices often leads to vision related problems like Computer Vision Syndrome (also known as Digital Eye Strain).
On an average people now spend around 7 hours a day looking at digital screens at work and home. This leads to eye discomfort. If the usage of digital screens keeps increasing, it leads to increase in problems.
Some symptoms that indicate if a person is suffering from CVS are :
2. Blurred vision
3. Strain on eyes
4. Pain in neck and shoulders
This syndrome can be caused by a lot of factors like improper posture, sitting too close to the screen, glare from the screen, untreated eye problems, and poor lighting. The extent at which a person feels the symptoms also depends on a person’s visual capabilities and the amount of time they spend looking at digital screens. In case of extreme pain, you should visit your doctor immediately and get a diagnosis. The problem decreases with the decrease in time spent using the digital screens. However, often due to work demands we may not be able to lessen the use of all these devices. In such a case, we can do the following to prevent damage to our eyes :
1. Eye Care :
Wear prescribed glasses or lens. In case of extensive usage, one should ask the doctor for advice and use high power lens and glasses, meant especially for this.
2. Computer Screen Location :
The optimum position of a computer screen is 4 to 5 inches below our eye level and 28-30 inches away.
3. Positioning Reference Materials :
In case you need some documents while working, use a document holder and keep the documents above, directly at your eye level. The documents should be kept in such a manner that you do not have to move your head continuously to refer the document and then look at the screen.
4. Lighting :
Keep your screen in such a way that there is very little glare. Draw the curtains or keep drapes at the windows. Use lower wattage bulb in the desk light.
5. Anti Glare Screen :
Use screen glare filter or purchase devices which give very less glare. Use Kindle instead of your regular tablet or laptop for reading.
6. Seating Position :
Your chair is your throne. It should be comfortable and padded. It should be adjusted to such a height that your feet lay flat on the floor and you are able to see the screen comfortably. Do not keep your wrists on the keyboard while typing.
7. Rest Breaks :
Your eyes need to rest after continuously working. Take a 15-minute break after working for 2 hours. Like a camera lens, give your eyes a chance to refocus every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.
8. Blinking :
Nature has meticulously created a mechanism in our eyes to keep them moist. It is blinking. Keep blinking frequently to prevent dry eyes.
Replacing eyes is nearly impossible and very expensive. Keep your eyes intact by following these guidelines and getting regular checkups to avoid problems like CVS.
FamPhy, is on target to be India's largest network of home visiting doctors. We provide high quality care to
patients at home and have a very robust on the job training for doctors to become good family physicians.