Dr Vinay Aggarwal, a renowned name in the medical fraternity, is chairman and managing director of Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital, Vaishali, Ghaziabad and former president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA). A recipient of Dr B C Roy National Award – 2006, Dr Aggarwal recently took charge as president of the Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO) at the 28th CMAAO Congress and 49th Council Meet held in New Delhi. The event was organized by IMA and had the central theme of ‘Be Human, Stop Child Abuse’.
After taking over as president of CMAAO, Dr Vinay Aggarwal shared his views in an exclusive interview with India Medical Times:
How do you feel about becoming the first Indian in 20 years to become the president of CMAAO?
It’s a matter of pride for me. I have been working for CMAAO and engaged in positive participation since long. I was waiting for this coveted post so that I can make use of the wonderful opportunity. I believe my track record in medico-social field and my work on various programmes like ‘Aao Gaon Chale’ and ‘Girl Child Abuse’ have been noticed by the community. And I am confident by assuming this leadership role of CMAAO this time, I would be able to guide and direct our National Medical Association. With this, I will be able to bring some positive change; at least I will try to initiate the changes.
It’s not a matter of pride only for me but also for our country, my medical fraternity, my family that after 22 years an Indian has been again given the responsibility of leading CMAAO again.
Throw some light on this year’s theme of CMAAO.
The theme of Child Abuse is a very important topic. Child neglect is a common problem in India. Child labour, violence on children, sexual assault is a bitter crime India and the world faces. There is a widespread myth that sex with a child can cure sexually transmitted diseases, which is the reason we have observed a number of cases related to tourists thronging Goa for this shameful act. This myth needs to be busted and dealt with harsh punishments.
In recent decades some extreme forms of violence against children, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, female genital mutilation, the worst forms of child labour and the impact of armed conflict, have provoked national and international outcry and achieved a consensus of condemnation, although no rapid remedy. In addition to these extreme forms of violence, many children are routinely exposed to physical, sexual and psychological neglectance and violence in their homes and schools, in care and justice systems, in places of work and in their communities. All of this has devastating consequences for their health and well-being now and in the future. We need to deal with it together.
How is the medical fraternity trying to build a platform to address the issue of child abuse?
We are exchanging programmes on this issue. Under this, all medical associations of India will chart out progress in relation to child abuse issues in India and establish a common minimum programme that will guide our year-long work to be done to minimize child abuse. We will exchange our agenda with other countries too. For India, Indian Medical Association will try implementing local Indian oriented programmes by encouraging social and community level initiatives and discussions over the theme.
It would be possible only with the support of five agencies – government, medical associations, NGOs, media and law enforcing agencies.
What place does India hold as an important health destination among CMAAO?
All member nations of CMAAO acknowledge that India is a very important country and has progressed a lot than its neighbouring counterparts in terms of health services. Nations like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are still in primitive stages and a lot more needs to be done there. India is establishing hospitals in other countries like Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia etc because of our expertise in this area which is an indication in itself that is rising rapidly in this sector and we are very strong in terms of health services in the world.
What are other important challenges you are going to deal with?
Disasters are common in Asian belt and especially Asia Pacific belt. Every year tsunami claims many lives. Medical emergency in such situations holds a lot of importance and how to deal in such situations needs to be formulated by doctors across the belt. Moreover, diseases pattern is taking its shape in developing countries. TB has made countries like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and other developing countries its home. So, these issues have to be dealt together by framing common minimum programmes by taking expertise from all nations involved and follow it consistently.
What do you plan to do in the area of medical education?
It is because of relentless demand by Indian Medical Association for three years that the Medical Council of India is being reconstituted now. I feel medical education should not be government run, it should be independently monitored and it should be independently regulated but at the same time MCI’s autonomous role should be maintained. The curriculum followed in medical education is still age old. MCI has worked to bring positive changes in education; it just needs to be implemented. Topics like financial management, disaster management, communication skills, ethics should be given due importance keeping in mind the demand of the changing healthcare industry.
What’s your view on NEET?
As we know that the judgment is under review now, the medical fraternity strongly believes that NEET should be conducted in a fair and proper manner. There should be a clear-cut law related to this subject of conducting common nationwide examination. Personally, I am in the support of NEET.
It is said that research and research writing is not in good shape in India. What’s your view?
I think the government needs to pay some attention to this area by encouraging doctors and students. More funds need to be sanctioned specifically for this purpose. ICMR and other such bodies should regulate research and take it up as next important thing that needs promotion and consideration.
Your message for the readers?
I would urge the medical fraternity to divide some of their attention towards the issue of child abuse and consider it as a very sensitive issue with which India and the world is grappling with today. On a personal level, we doctors can offer counselling to the needy who have been affected by this crime and the children needs to be handled with utmost care and sensitive approach to make them feel confident to lead their life and do not consider it as a stigma that is going to stop their life from going forward.
by Vidhi Rathee