AT THE XXXIV GIMACON 2022…felicitating ima goa State Oration given by Dr Harish Shetty, the noted psychiatrist from Mumbai spoke on the subject of “Identifying Psychological Problems in the Elderly.” Alongside are ima national president, Dr Sahajanand Prasad Singh along with Dr Rufino Monteiro (Goa IMA president) and other ima dignitaries (inset) GMC dean Dr Shivanand Bandekar giving his address.

By Tara Narayan

Goa’s GIMACON medical meet returned after a three-year break because of the Covid-19 emergency. This is the medical profession or industry’s most prestigious meet attended by a large number of doctors, GPs, physicians, surgeons, specialists, super specialists, from all over Goa and some VIP delegates from outstation. The meet, held in a city five-star hotel over the September 24-25, 2022 weekend, was accompanied by a CME presentation of papers– some of which can prove to be very useful for a media person’s understanding, to be able to interpret it to lay person or patients who nowadays take a keen interest in advances made in the field of medicine constantly. After all, the majority of us are patients at some time or another in life and at the mercy of doctors senior and junior. Perhaps one should see life through a busy doctor’s eyes sometimes instead of patients!

THE annual Indian Medical Association (Goa) meets are always interesting because they offer food for thought about where healthcare is headed in this country. It is useful to attend the Goa IMA’s annual GIMACON meet for one never knows what one may find out about a fraternity of doctors who impact the common citizen’s life so much! We all go to doctors sooner or later for some health ailment or another and at this year’s XXXIV GIMACON 2022, while browsing through the pharmaceutical stalls set up promoting various drugs manufactured, a question occurred anew.
How much is the mainstream Allopathy medical system worth at an all-India level? Is it an industry now and what are the criteria? A Dr Sandesh Kenkre puts it as “10,000 crore at least on an all-India level with private practice taking up a share of almost 80% of medical practice…after all by our GDP the government budget allocates only 1.5% to healthcare facilities!”
Clearly, public healthcare is not high up on the list of priorities for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But the government constantly falls back on the private doctors’ community to come to the rescue in emergency times like say in the Covid-19 pandemic times, observed Dr Deep Bhandare “and so many of our doctors while treating covid patients gave up their own life.” Does anyone appreciate this? Reportedly, 1,500 doctors lost their own life after they contacted covid’s deadly corona virus infection themselves, “in Goa about two or three doctors succumbed to the infection after attending to patients at the covid centres set up.”
But to return to an earlier question, when does a profession cease to be just a profession (noble or not!) to be called a mega business and even an industry? Are there any criteria to come to a conclusion – one would think the pharmaceutical business itself is an industry and has come back with a bigger than ever presence before Covid-19! Pharmacists were observing World Pharmacists Day on September 25, 2022 and there are approximately 17 lakh registered pharmacists in India with Goa being a pioneering centre with several pharmaceutical giants of India and the world based and operating from here.
The covid pandemic has undoubtedly boosted the multi-dimensional pharma industry with all manner of new products for sale at various chemists. The pandemic which has been holding the world at ransom for over three years and the lockdowns turning many aam aadmi livelihoods into jeopardy, has undoubtedly been a huge boost to the fortunes of the pharma and medical business to arrive at new heights of achievements and fortunes?

WE’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER! The happy ima group with guest speakers and award winners, (right) popular speaker Dr Harish Shetty who was the star speaker of gimacon 2022.

That is of course if one considers the boom in Covid-19 vaccines one after another and about which there are many angry voices being raised now from within the medical community itself – was Covid-19 a big bluff linked up with the great utopian re-set as many are beginning to call it, to curb the population of the world along economic lines.

THIS year’s XXXIV GIMACON 2022 was hosted by IMA Tiswadi branch (there are seven IMA branches in Goa, namely in Bardez, Bicholim, Curchorem, Sanguem, Margao, Mormugao, Ponda and Tiswadi) and its theme was “Care of the old with a heart of gold.” The deliberations started off with a melodious prayer by Dr Anupuma Kudchadkar and the ceremonial lighting of the lamp after which various speakers addressed the audience of about 700 modern medicine doctors, including Goa Medical College & Hospital Dean Dr Shivanand Bandekar and IMA National President Dr Sahajanand Prasad Singh. A souvenir was released and awards were given to various members of the doctor’s fraternity who had excelled in their devotion to the medical field.

THE highlight of the first day deliberations was a talk by the flamboyant psychiatrist from Mumbai, Dr Harish Shetty, who spoke eloquently on the subject of “Identifying Psychological Problems in the Elderly.” Devoted to his own mother and mother-in-law or “the twins” — as the noted psychiatrist referred to the two women — he had everyone laughing at his apt observations about how most of us treat our elderly folk in the family.
Elders must come first, he reiterated time and again and he is a great advocate to returning to respecting grandparents and parents by touching their feet with a simple gesture of respect … yes, every morning, to make them feel good! What a sorry pass we have to come to in modern, urban society, he rued, where the elderly are concerned – even our old folk don’t expect anything from us and therefore the constant stresses and conflicts which arise in a joint family. It is definitely time to make the elderly count for something and the rewards are very heart-warming.
Dr Harish Shetty offered a superb analysis into the mind of the elderly. It is a fact that life expectancy has gone up from 32 in 1947 to the current 70.19 in 2022 “although only in the Hunza valley everyone lives to be a 100 years old!” The modern world is changing rapidly but we need to maintain our connects with our old folk who are very lonely, depressed and often suicidal, courtesy the ways in which we marginalize or do away with them by putting them in old age homes no matter how expensive!
To help and be helped is very important to wellbeing, Dr Shetty said, “Life is like a football game for most people, they kick each other around without realizing that they will get there too to be kicked around!” There is nothing like conditional love, he stressed, love is always unconditional love. So touch the feet of your parents every day, he urged, “This is science as well as emotional! Become humble and bend to be grounded …life will go but the love of your parents will remain.” Yes, he makes sure that he takes his mother or his mother-in-law to the doctor or wherever they need to go, they come first.
All this adds to the quality of life of the elderly and if there is connection with family there will be less mental health deterioration too, mental health is most important, “1 in 7 Indians are mentally ill today and there was a 17% increase in suicide alone last year.” Other observations to take note of: “Locked minds are time bombs, diffuse them early before they explode inside!”
Also, “Pure anger is love…the six feelings of life are anger, joy, fear, sadness, depression, jealousy.” Deal with these feelings wisely and accept “sadness as normal.” Remember that in old age loneliness is a disease but can be eased when connections are kept alive in family, community, the world at large. All this and much more to make one feel human again, thank-you Dr Harish Shetty! He said he loves Goa and never says “No!” to Goa when invited to come and address a meeting here; he was also all praise for the young doctors who had facilitated his visit to GIMACON 2022 so that it was a pleasure.
Papers presented at this year’s GIMACON included one on “Diabetic Foot – The Untold Story,” also “Tropical Fevers” by Dr Sajith Kumar, “Rational Use of Antibiotics” by Dr Anita Mathews and “Medico-Legal Aspects in Clinical Practice’ by Dr Lalit Kapoor. There was an IMA general body meeting and a valedictory function on Sept 25, 2022.

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