Dr. Nanak Agarwal
India and Odisha have implemented various schemes at the national and state level to improve the health of the population. While there has been significant progress, Odisha is one of the lowest performing state in the health index composed by the National Institute of Transforming Health care in India. Approximately, one-fifth of children remain partially or completely unimmunized and more than half of the women are anemic. With a doctor-patient ratio of around 1: 2,749 it needs more than 10,000 doctors to meet the national level of 1:1,597 and a whooping 25,000 to achieve the WHO normal of 1:1,000 population. The New Indian Express on July 21, 2019 reported that 12 of 37 public health centers in Jagatsinghpur were running without a doctor. The inequalities are eye-opening in remote and tribal areas. Fortunately, the pandemic of COVID-19 has revolutionized health-care delivery: tele-health, tele-conference, tele-education, tele-dispensing etc. It is now possible to deliver the much-needed health care to every nook and corner of Odisha.
The three essentials for success are: intellect, personnel, and finance. There is no dearth of intellect and human-resources in OSA-USA. The challenges for our leadership will be to find honest and dedicated people at the local level, as well as transparency. Financial resources while being the most essential is the hardest to achieve. We are fortunate to have come to USA. Besides our merits, the paramount factor for our success has been the education we received at home at none or minimal cost. In contrast, over seventy-five percent of medical students in USA carry a median debt of nearly $200,000. An interest of mere 1% is equivalent to $2,000. yearly. For the few skeptics if any; “What’s in it for me?” This may be the most rewarding investment for generations and their legacy. It will be the steppingstone for our children to learn the rich heritage of Odisha and at the same time have the greatest clinical experience in the world. We can and will develop externships for high school, undergraduate and medical students.
Let us think deeply and answer in our hearts the historic words of President John F. Kennedy; “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Our motherland provided us the strong foundation to succeed; it is up-to us now to seize this moment. Starting from conception, planning, execution of a single project in a village, refine it as we learn to conversion into a model village for future growth. This way, I am confident that working together we will achieve our vision.
Nanakram Agarwal, MBBS, MS, MPH, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Surgery, New York Medical College