Honor the dignity of patients and treat them with respect Dr KK Aggarwal, Editor in Chief eMedinewS and IMA News in conversation with Dr OP Kalra, Vice-Chancellor. Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Science, Rohtak (Haryana), India. Dr OP Kalra has been honored with Dr BC Roy National Award for the year 2010 under the category of ‘Eminent Medical Teacher’. How does it feel being conferred one of the most prestigious awards in the medical field? I feel humbled. It re-enforces my belief that hard work, dedication, perseverance and clarity of goal help you achieve your targets and finally get rewarded. Institutional support by University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS), University of Delhi, University Grants Commission and lately Pt. B.D. Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak and Haryana Govt. have played a major role in this achievement. Tell us about your journey so far? I am an alumnus of JN Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. I did my MD (Medicine) followed by DM (Nephrology) from PGIMER, Chandigarh. In pursuit of higher learning in the field of Nephrology, I got the opportunity to work as Visiting Scholar at University of Missourie, Columbia and Veterans Administration Hospital, Columbia, Missourie, USA under the aegis of International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis. Thereafter, I got the opportunity to work at the University Hospitals of Leicester, United Kingdom under Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship Program. After completing my initial training at PGIMER, Chandigarh in 1984, I joined as a faculty member at Medical College and Hospital, Rohtak, Haryana, where I upgraded the Dialysis Unit; however I moved to UCMS (University of Delhi) in 1988, where I have been working for more than 27 years until 2015. During my long stint at Delhi, I got rich experience of working with distinguished faculty members, researchers and trained several undergraduates and postgraduates in Medicine. During the last nearly 9 years, I got the opportunity to work as Principal of UCMS and GTB Hospital. It was an exciting experience to witness the remarkable all round growth of quality medical education, research and tertiary level patient care facilities in the College, which made its mark among the top three Medical Institutions in the country. I developed the Division of Nephrology at GTB Hospital, Delhi and subsequently under the aegis of Government of NCT of Delhi, established Hemodialysis Centers at various Delhi Government Hospitals under Public Private Partnership. During this period, I also got an opportunity to work at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Nepal for a period of 2 years on deputation from Government of India, where I established the Dialysis Unit. Mid-year in 2015, I was given the opportunity to return to Rohtak and serve as the Vice Chancellor at the prestigious Pt BD Sharma University of Health Sciences. During my current position at the University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, I am involved with several major projects such as operationalization of Trauma Centre and Maternal and Child Care Hospital, establishment of Imaging and Hemodialysis facilities under Public Private Partnership, modernization of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and Emergency Department, upgradation of Regional Cancer Centre establishment of facilities for Kidney Transplantation, establishment of DNB Training Centers in various District Hospitals in Haryana, etc. What were the early challenges faced by you in your career? How did you manage to overcome them? I faced some difficulties for seeking permission for higher training in Nephrology and starting hemodialysis centers in various hospitals; however, persistence and single minded approach helped me achieve my goals in the interest of patient care to the underprivileged strata of society. Tell us about your family. How important has been the role of your family in your journey? My family has provided me all-round support in my pursuit for excellence in medical education and establishment of various patient care services especially for patients with kidney disease. My parents have been a constant source of encouragement throughout my medical education and subsequently all the years. My wife, son and daughter have always provided me rock-like support and stood by me throughout to help me realize my dreams in medical education and healthcare services. What would be your message to the community? For the general community, I would like to convey that today we are in the midst of an epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, stroke, etc. These diseases are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the deaths in our country. The root cause of these medical ailments is sedentary life style and obesity. By simple methods, such as cessation of smoking, regular physical exercise, healthy eating habits, avoidance of stress and strain in life and periodic physical check up and simple laboratory investigations, we can prevent majority of these ailments and if the illness has already started, it can be controlled in the early stages and various complications can be prevented. Given a chance, what changes would you like to bring about in health policies? In order to pursue the goal of Health for All and Millennium Development Goal, we need to strengthen our medical education and healthcare delivery system at the grass route level. There is need for overall restructuring of medical education to make it more relevant to the contemporary needs of the country and inclusion of quality parameters for assessment of medical colleges. A greater emphasis needs to be given for preventive and promotive health at all levels, especially Primary Health Centers. An effective referral system needs to be developed, so that patients with minor ailments can be treated at Primary Health Centers. There is need to strengthen emergency treatment and tertiary care facilities at referral hospitals to provide subsidized healthcare for one and all and health insurance system needs to be very effective. What advice would you give to youngsters? I would like to convey a message to the young aspiring medical students that our medical profession is different from all other professions. This involves caring for human life with a sense of compassion, sympathy and we must follow the basic principles of bioethics while dealing with the patients. We have to honor the dignity of our patients and treat them with respect. While delivering healthcare, we must attend to all patients without differentiating on the basis of their caste, creed, socioeconomic status or religious leaning. We must regularly update our knowledge and skills to keep abreast with the recent advances in medical sciences, so that best medical care may be provided to the suffering humanity.