15th April 2020
University Hospital of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences
Time remains the most crucial determinant in the management of any pandemic. A timely response can help in containing, to a greater extent, any epidemic and prevent it from turning it into pandemic. Evidence in support of this assertion is not far to seek. Li Wenliang (an Ophthalmologist working as a physician at Wuhan Central Hospital in China) had timely warned about the possible outbreak of an illness that resembled Severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (SARS) that was later acknowledged as COVID 19. His warning was not timely headed to and he was admonished for his observation. It is a different matter that he was later exonerated and offered an apology.
The experiences of South Korea and the United States of America further support the importance of time in the management of pandemic. Both of these countries had the first COVID 19 case on the same day but responded differently. While the USA was slow in responding to the threat, South Korea acted fast and appropriately - aggressive testing and isolating the patients was its commendable strategy and it worked immaculately. The contrasting picture of the pandemic in both these countries offers a lesson to be learnt for the whole world. Furthermore, Taiwan has a similar success story in a way that it has been largely successful in containing COVID 19 pandemic in spite of having limited healthcare resources, by employing timely interventions.
Academic Clinicians don't just treat patients but are also trained to manage a disease based on credible scientific evidence. In other words, they are not just doctors but are Clinician-Scientists who employ evidence-based-medicine during their day-to-day clinical practice and who also generate valuable data based upon their experiences with the patients.
In many academic institutions, especially in developing countries, such Clinicians-Scientists, due to their crushing clinical service commitments, find little time for indulging in research related activities. In such countries, the academic clinicians (apart from their time consuming clinical service commitments) have to perform teaching and administrative responsibilities. With less than adequate institutional support for research, the atmosphere conducive to research could not got built up in institutions of Medical education and there is a much felt need to redefine a career path for Clinician-Scientists (in developing countries). Further, they need more representation in Science academies and they need to be consulted in evidence-informed policymaking pertaining to health.