IV INDIA-UK HEALTHCARE CONFERENCE 2022
Royal College of Physicians of London
by- Madhu Mati Sahani, Nephrologist, London
At the 4th India – UK healthcare conference, for the first time I had the opportunity to experience the spirit of collaboration between the two countries. The main aim was to improve ties in healthcare at all levels, so not just the people of both countries but people around the globe may reap the benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted more than ever before, that we cannot just live and survive in our own microcosms in an interconnected and intricately interdependent world. The UK has yet again proven itself as a pioneer in COVID-19 research, genomic sequencing of variants and vaccine development. It has shared its expertise with the world and India to help in their fight with COVID-19. India also played an important global role in mass production of vaccines, supplying them not just to the UK but for the world. The UK and India should continue to work together to ensure the two countries and the world are better prepared for future healthcare and humanitarian challenges.
The conference delegates discussed that every year approximately 80,000 doctors graduate in India, which is grossly inadequate for India’s population needs, however, even less have access to postgraduate training in highly specialised disciplines. On the other hand, the UK National Health Service (NHS) has a high demand for a trained healthcare workforce, with inadequate domiciliary training slots. The Medical training initiative (MTI) program in collaboration with Royal Colleges provides a system to bring doctors from India to UK for two year postgraduate training along with opportunity to develop in addition, management or research skills which would benefit both countries. Some doctors return back to India as specialist doctors while others stay back in the UK. Along with the royal colleges, the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) is playing a pivotal role in making this program mutually beneficial for both countries.
There is a vast amount of population health data collected from the large and diverse population of India but there is a lack of robust systems to compile all the data for analysis in research.
Ayurveda, Yoga & Unani
It was interesting to hear about traditional Indian healthcare practices such as Ayurveda, Unani and health promotion through yoga that has been practised in India for nearly 5000 years. These practices as described in the ancient texts (such as Charaka and Sushruta Samhita) have played a vital role in holistic healing for chronic conditions like arthritis, chronic pain and especially mental health. Yoga which is a way of life for most Indians is also popular in the UK and across the world. Lack of research and evidence in the way western medicine practices have developed is the primary hindrance to introduction in best practice or evidence based care pathways. To provide holistic care to patients in the NHS introducing yoga and Ayurveda is a good option but more evidence is required before implementing. Indian scientists and diaspora physicians are best placed to provide the leadership needed to develop research in these traditional medical practices.
Her excellency Gaitri Issar Kumar, the High Commissioner of India and the Union Minister of health, emphasised that matters discussed in the conference were not just words spoken but would be followed through. India and the UK following a successful partnership for vaccine research and manufacturing, can indeed look forward to stronger collaboration in areas of pharmaceuticals in addition to newly emerging area of digital health, genomics, robotic surgery and use of artificial intelligence in healthcare.
The conference was an opportunity for social networking and for meeting the movers and shakers in healthcare. Similar events also provide a platform to share innovative ideas and opportunities to progress not just for doctors but for all healthcare professionals around the world.