Much-needed medical facility inaugurated in Bengal

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Kolkata: President of India Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the Indian Institute of Liver and Digestive Sciences (IILDS) today in Sonarpur, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, yesterday. Speaking on the occasion, the president said that although big cities have super-speciality hospitals, state-of-the-art healthcare facilities are yet to reach people residing in lakhs of remote villages in the country.

Why IILDS

Liver and gastrointestinal illnesses are emerging as healthcare priorities in India. The management of liver and gastrointestinal diseases has changed significantly in the past two decades. Molecular (gene-based) methods have provided precise diagnostic tools. Therapeutic endoscopy and interventional radiology have changed the approach to many diseases of the liver and biliary tract, including the pancreas. Imaging modes like the MRI, CT scan, ultrasonography and Fibroscan are yielding higher and higher resolution and precision every day. New drugs to treat liver diseases are being developed. Illnesses such as hepatitis viruses, once considered untreatable, can mostly be cured now. Surgical techniques have improved along with critical care, leading to significantly better surgery outcomes in difficult liver and gastrointestinal illnesses. Transplantation is changing the lives of people suffering from an advanced incurable liver disease.

Along with scientific development, organisationally, too, there are now several centres in the country that provide state-of-the-art care. The institute wants to not only add to the list but also to take a step ahead in the care and arrangement of care in liver and gastrointestinal diseases. Located near Kolkata, the IILDS intends to be the apex clinical care and research centre not only in the region but all over the country.

Involvement, not Investment

The Liver Foundation, West Bengal, is committed to providing care that is accessible and affordable to the majority of Indians. The institute will not be able to offer care completely free, but it proposes a revenue model that will ensure no one is denied treatment for lack of money. Those who can afford will receive care at a cost that can keep the wheels of the institute running. Such a model of cross subsidisation can work only if the institute is built with funds that come without the “string of return on investment”.

The institute wishes to assert that it does not accept the idea of “health care as an industry”. It hopes to involve millions who, believing in their vision, will step forward to donate or make endowments to bring the idea to fruition. No doubt the facility will have to raise loans from financial institutions. But the less tight this financial noose around our necks, the more elbow room it will have in serving the people.

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