Few doctors to treat rheumatism in TS

India needs about 20,000 specialists to maintain the same ratio of rheumatology specialists to the population like in the US and the UK

HYDERABAD: The country is woefully short of doctors to treat rheumatism-related ailments, doctors said at a rheumatology conference at KIMS Hospitals, Secunderabad. Dr Sarath Chandra Mouli, clinical director, department of clinical immunology & rheumatology, KIMS Hospitals, said if the ratio of rheumatology specialists to the population in the US and the UK were considered, India needed about 20,000 specialists to maintain the same ratio.

Instead, Dr Mouli estimated, there were only about 700-800 specialists in the country. One reason for the shortage, he said, was the lack of courses offered for the super specialty in medical institutes. He said there was not a single government college in either Telangana or AP which offered the course.

The number of courses offered for paediatric rheumatology are even fewer. NIMS Hyderabad had a rheumatology centre which received about 200 patients per day while KIMS got about 120, he said.

Doctors also stated that contrary to what was believed earlier, children were being affected by rheumatoid arthritis. Dr B.G. Dharmanand, senior consultant, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, and president, Indian Rheumatology Association, said, women were more prone to rheumatology-related issues like arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and others.

Dr Dharmanand added that there wasn’t enough awareness about rheumatology and a misconception prevailed that most rheumatology diseases had no cure. “A lot of research has been done in the last 20 years and very effective treatments have been developed. We are planning to educate the public about this problem,” he added.

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