KOCHI: The recent order by the Delhi High Court, directing the Medical Council of India (MCI) to reconsider the withdrawal of recognition to the Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Cardiology (PGDCC) awarded by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), gives fresh hope to around 60 clinical cardiologists struggling to practise or gain recognition as cardiology specialists in the state. According to experts, if the course is recognised, it will give a fresh impetus to the health sector, especially in Kerala.
Clinical cardiologists, while not qualified in surgery, are vital links inpatient care in cases of cardiac emergencies. According to Dr Rajesh Rajan, former president of Indian Association of Clinical Cardiologists, the first 120 minutes of a cardiac emergency being the golden period for a patient’s survival, availability of such experts at short notice at every hospital is critical to ensure that trained personnel are at hand for immediate response.
Apart from emergency response, clinical cardiologists also handle in-patient care, carry out cardiology duty in the hospital as well as echo-laboratories, and refer patients for angioplasty and angiogram to surgeon.
“The plan to recruit PGDCC clinical cardiologists for all taluk and district hospitals in Kerala was mooted during PK Sreemathy’s tenure as health minister in 2006. However, this positive idea to equip state-run hospitals with basic cardiology specialists ran into rough weather when the MCI de-recognised the course in 2015,” said a senior cardiologist on condition of anonymity.
He also added that with more clinical cardiologists, the rural health sector would also benefit. “Doctors trained in clinical cardiology will be able to provide basic cardio-care in rural areas. Presence of experts trained specifically in cardiology during night-shifts at hospitals and for first-response care of patients during emergency situations, will improve health-care facilities a great deal,” he said.
Heart disease has been the leading cause of deaths in Kerala, topping the chart in 1990 and also recently in 2016. Further, the death rate due to cardiac complications has increased steadily over the years. If 7.1% of the total deaths reported in 1990 were due to heart disease, the percentage has risen to 12.2% of the total deaths in 2016.
“Out of the 60 clinical cardiologists who qualified PGDCC in Kerala, only eight are at present employed in Government service. Re-instating the MCI’s recognition for the course will not only ensure their better employability in specialist roles but will also enable the course to be re-started in full swing, thus ensuring that new batches of cardiac specialists pass out every year to meet the ever-increasing health-care requirements of the country,” said Rajan.