NEIGRIHMS goes hi-tech but who’s benefitting…

By Our Special Correspondent

 Shillong: The North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute for Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) has improved by leaps and bounds in terms of diagnostic facilities. A set of digitalised X-ray machines which are highly accurate, can give instant results and can be shared over the internet for consultation among physicians and surgeons has made diagnoses so much more efficient says, Dr Daniella, Head of Department, Radiology at NEIGRIHMS.

One of the manifestations of the stresses and strains of modern life is the early onset of menopause in women. “Recently scientific studies have established beyond doubt that men too reach andropause (male menopause) at age 65 -70 and they are as susceptible to Osteoporosis a degenerative bone disorder as women are,” Dr Bhaskar Borgohain, Associate Professor, Department of Orthopaedics said, adding, “it is important to track bone loss much before the onset of Osteoporosis.

The Dual Energy X-Ray Absorbiometry (DEXA) machine is now able to check bone density in all individuals but particularly women who have reached menopausal age.

Earlier such tests were carried out on a one-off basis by pharmaceutical companies coming to the State to promote new drugs and equipments. Now anyone can go to NEIGRIHMS and get checked for early onset of Osteoporosis and get the required treatment before the condition takes a toll and patients begin to complain of slipped disc or suffer multiple fractures etc. because the bones have turned brittle and cannot adequately support the human frame.

“Unlike in the West or the metros where routine check- ups are normal, people of the North East generally do not come for check up

unless they are suffering from some condition or the other. By then treatment is interventionist and not preventive,” Dr Borgohain said. He said if people would come and get themselves checked up routinely they could keep themselves healthier.

So who are the people who regularly throng NEIGRIHMS? Doctors at the Institute say that a large number of people from the military and para military organisations such as the Assam Regimental Centre, Assam Rifles, BSF etc. are benefiting from NEIGRIHMS.

“The army has its own exclusive health set-up (military hospital) and state of the art facilities that civilians are not entitled to so why do they also crowd out civilians from Health Institutes meant for them?” asked a senior doctor at NEIGRIHMS. Perhaps the military authorities would have an answer to this.

One of the most common complaints that Dr Borgohain encounters in patients these days is Vitamin D deficiency. “Just five minutes of exposure to sunlight daily is enough to give us adequate amounts of Vitamin D. This Vitamin is important as it enables us to absorb calcium. Taking Calcium supplements or Calcium rich foods is useless if the body cannot absorb them. Hence Vitamin D deficiency needs to be addressed,” Dr Borgohain informed.

The soft-spoken, yet observant and sensitive Dr Akash Handique, Assistant Professor, Radiology, however, says that primary clinical tests which the general practitioner used to do with due diligence in the past after sitting with a patient and asking a set of questions seems to have been given the go by. “Doctors today are too quick to refer patients for different diagnostic tests. I have told the students of medicine here that they need to go through the preliminary process of clinical examination before bringing a patient to the Radiology Department because often the tests are unnecessary,” Dr Handique said.

Each time you visit NEIGRIHMS there is a new learning experience, a person who had come for some diagnoses said. “I am happy to be told what sort of diet I should take for my condition which the dietician meticulously explains,” she said.