July 24, 2009
“With the convergence of information technology, communication technology, biotechnology and nano-sciences, a new science called Intelligent Bioscience will be born, which could lead to a disease-free, happy and more intelligent human habitat with longevity and high human capabilities,” said former president Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, while speaking at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) on Thursday, July 23rd. Dr. Kalam was in AIMS to inaugurate the new PET-CT scanner recently acquired by the Department of Nuclear Medicine at AIMS.
Delivering the inaugural address, Dr. Kalam emphasized that advancements in medicine technology will be advantageous to the poor only if they are made affordable. “It is up to the institutions to ensure that medical facilities are made cost effective for the poor,” he underlined. Dr. R. D. Lele, the father of nuclear medicine in India, was also present. Explaining the growth of nuclear medicine, he said that this was the medicine of the future. “Its main use would be in diagnosis and staging of cancer. It could also be useful in deciding treatment for heart diseases, infections, Alzheimer’s disease, other neurological diseases and mental illnesses.”
After the inaugural address, Dr. Kalam interacted with medical and MBA students studying at the health sciences campus in Kochi and urged them to ask him questions. “Ask five smart questions and I will give smart answers,” he said.
“What can we do for the development of the country?” a student asked. “Go to villages,” was Dr. Kalam’s immediate reply. He requested that the future doctors go to villages and treat at least twenty patients every year, free of charge. A final year MBBS student asked Dr. Kalam how the economic difference between the rich and poor could be reduced. “Records say that 45% of our population was below the poverty line in 1970,” Dr. Kalam answered. “That has now come down to 22%. If we have to improve it further, PURA concept has to become a reality.”
PURA is Dr. Kalam’s brainchild; it envisions Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas. Dr. Kalam has stressed that this is needed in order to make India a truly developed nation. “While raising people above the poverty line remains unquestionably a goal, it is equally important to keep up with the technological advances. PURA is the way forward to prosperity and achieving India-2020.” Reminding his audience that 700 million people live in 6,00,000 villages of India, he added, “It is doctors who have to make technology cost-effective and affordable to the poor. Compassion has to go together with medical healthcare.”
An MBA student asked Dr. Kalam how India could be insulated from the effect of the global meltdown. Dr. Kalam said that India was not as severely affected as the rest of the world due to three things — one, the reforms hadn’t been fully implemented here due to our social commitments; two, our banks were more orthodox in giving loans and three, Indians were savings-minded. Dr. Kalam again stressed that if India has to be fully insulated from the global meltdowns in the future, the PURA concept has to fructify. Physical, electronic, knowledge and economic connectivity between urban and the rural areas has to be provided, he reiterated.
A doctor asked Dr. Kalam, about his vision when he was 30. Dr. Kalam replied that his vision was shaped when he was ten years old. At that age, his teacher had taught him about how birds fly. That knowledge later prompted him to take up the study of physics, aeronautics and rocket engineering. He advised the audience to have an aim, attain knowledge, work hard and persevere to attain the goal.
Vice- Chancellor of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Dr.Venkat Rangan; Principal of Amrita School of Medicine, Dr. Prathapan Nair; HoD (Nuclear Medicine), Dr. Shanmugha Sundaram and HoD (Radiology), Dr. Sreekanth Moorthy, also participated in the program.