Chennai: The resurging interest among medical aspirants in ‘Community Medicine’, a study encompassing prevention and management of disease has led to the government giving its consent to increase the number of postgraduate seats in the subject from the existing 19 in all state colleges to 25.
The Institute of Community Medicine at Madras Medical College has benefitted from this windfall by being sanctioned the 6 additional seats, increasing its PG intake from 4 to 10 for the next academic session. The government has also approved 15 new faculty posts at the institute.
Dr. Edwin Joe, Director, Medical Education speaking about the changing trend said “We are seeing a change in trend now. Students are choosing community medicine even when they are eligible for other clinical courses.”
Also known as ‘Preventive Medicine, Public and Community Health and Social Medicine’, Community Medicine pertains to managerial and research work towards prevention of diseases, health promotion in the community and monitoring implementation of various health policies.
“A community medicine practitioner doesn’t see the patient alone. A personal disease is seen as a symptom of a wider social malady afflicting the individual, family, and community,” said Dr Sanjay Zodpey , Indian Institute of Public Health.
The community medicine practitioner on identifying nonmedical reasons that lead to a particular disease which could include illiteracy, poor hygiene, poverty or limited access to healthcare facilities, works out a program to prevent this through health education.
Of the 16,191 MD seats, a mere 5% are reserved for community medicine in colleges. According to Director, Public Health, K Kolandaisamy, the highest number of postgraduates took on teaching for a career; a larger chunk also applies for state health department’s managerial roles. “A sizeable number are also recruited by international agencies like the WHO, while a smaller number pursue research,” he added.
Only 5% of the 16,191 MD seats in medical colleges across the country have been reserved for community medicine. Director, Public Health, K Kolandaisamy said the highest number of postgraduates take up teaching, while a large number apply for managerial roles in the state health department. “A sizeable number are also recruited by international agencies like the WHO, while a smaller number pursue research,” he added.
The dengue outbreak, just before the rain spell in the state could have seen community medicine doctors play a crucial role as:
“most of the dengue deaths happened because families sought medical help too late. Ideally, community medicine doctors should have been utilized to pick up cases directly from the field,” said former Director, Public Health, S Elango.
Speaking to TOI he further added, “We need community medicine because a doctor’s responsibility is not just to those who seek help but also to those who can’t afford to.”