Orthopaedics in India: Q&A with Dr. Ram Prabhoo

By: Amanda Decker

IOA president discusses challenges and opportunities for Indian orthopaedists

Dr. Ram Prabhoo, president of the Indian Orthopaedic Association (IOA), recently shared his insights about the practice of orthopaedics in India. According to Dr. Prabhoo, although Indian orthopaedists face challenges in providing musculoskeletal care to their country’s large population, they also have more access than ever before to high-quality musculoskeletal education, including AAOS programs conducted in India.

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Dr. Ram Prabhoo

Q: Outside of trauma, what are the three most common orthopaedic conditions in India, and how does the profession treat them?

A: In my opinion, the most common problem would be tuberculosis, followed by pediatric and congenital problems. Tuberculosis is still a big problem. It is treated with a multi-disciplinary approach. Patients undergo surgical intervention when the need arises. These patients have a long follow-up period—2 years, ideally.

There are close to 200 pediatric orthopaedic surgeons who treat the bulk of congenital and pediatric deformities, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, etc., at tertiary care centers.

Q: What is the IOA’s greatest strength? As president, what is your vision for orthopaedics in India?

A: The IOA enjoys the unique position of overseeing regional and subspecialty societies across our vast country. The IOA is primarily an educational body helping the next generation get empowered by taking various courses, seminars, instructional course lectures, and surgical skills workshops. Our organization also provides various fellowships and observerships to enhance and update the knowledge of not only trainees but also practicing orthopaedic surgeons.

As president, my aim is to get the IOA on par with other international organizations. I look forward to an era where the IOA becomes the premier educational organization for Indian orthopaedic surgeons.

Q: What is the significance for Indian orthopaedic surgeons of India being named Guest Nation for the 2017 AAOS Annual Meeting?

A: The Executive Committee of the IOA feels honored and humbled to be the Guest Nation for the 2017 AAOS Annual Meeting. It provides an international platform for Indian orthopaedic surgeons to showcase their skills and knowledge.

Q: The Academy has been partnering with the IOA on programming in India for many years. Can you speak to the benefits of this partnership?

A: AAOS programs conducted in India have been very well received and appreciated by the Indian orthopaedic community. They have also generated a lot of interest among young people, a fact evident from the enthusiastic and large Indian contingent that is here in San Diego.

Q: What is the role of digital education in India?

A: India is proud to be at the forefront of digital technology. We are the largest exporters of software in the world. This has also positively affected education in India. Most Indian educational materials are now available as ebooks. All journals published in India have ejournals. And a majority of young people subscribe and actively publish in international ejournals. The e-platform has helped in the dissemination of knowledge across our country.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle related to education in India?

A: As is the case with all our problems, our biggest obstacles in education are financial constraints and the enormous population. A minor hiccup we also face is the reluctance of a section of orthopaedic surgeons to update their knowledge. But things are improving and the younger generation can look forward to better times ahead.

Q: Long-term, what kind of collaboration would you like to see between U.S. and Indian surgeons?

A: We look forward to developing a fellowship exchange program and greater participation in the
Annual Meeting academic activities.

Q: What do you think U.S. surgeons can learn from Indian orthopaedists?

A: Indian orthopaedists can share their knowledge about how to manage complex problems within a stipulated budget and how to deliver good results in spite of limited resources. U.S. surgeons may also be amazed to learn about the pace at which the indigenous implant and surgical manufacturing industry has progressed.             

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