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Restructuring the disciplinary system to enhance people’s health
Author:  Date:2020-05-22  Clicks:

As COVID-19 spreads around the world, it is having a profound impact on the global economy, societies, politics, culture, education and health care. The pandemic also raises people’s awareness about the role of health as the foundation for people’s comprehensive development and the greatest asset for any individual. Clearly, medical development and education are critical to national development and rejuvenation. To sum up the experience of fighting the coronavirus, I would like to share my views on medical discipline construction.

Combine the control and prevention of major epidemics with that of non-infectious diseases

At the moment, the public’s attention is focused on COVID-19. But as medical staff, we must be sober enough to realize that humanity is under threat from both frequent outbreaks of major infectious diseases and major chronic non-infectious diseases. Coping with outbreaks of major epidemics, we must exert all efforts to prevent and control diseases, while doing our utmost to ensure people’s safety and protect lives. However, a focus on prevention and control has not diminished the threat of major chronic non-infectious diseases. On the one hand, there has been a significant increase in mortality from COVID-19 among patients with severe non-infectious diseases. On the other hand, the risk of infection and the mobilization of medical resources during the epidemic have led to a weakening of routine medical care, leading to increased mortality among people with chronic non-infectious diseases.

Medical disciplines are facing unprecedented challenges, which requires breaking the shackles of traditional thinking and making new adjustments. The future construction of medical disciplines must consider many aspects, including the prevention and control of major epidemics and major chronic non-infectious diseases, the improvement of people’s overall health, and the improvement of people’s life expectancy. \

Strengthen multidisciplinary integration and promote medical technology innovation

Medicine is a highly comprehensive and practical discipline, whose development is highly dependent on breakthroughs across disciplines and technological innovation. The history of medicine is, to a certain extent, characterized by the integration and development of multiple disciplines and advanced technology. From the introduction of anatomy and ligation hemostasis with Paré in the 16th century, to the clinical application of CT, magnetic resonance, endoscopy, robotic surgery, proton heavy ions, and high throughput sequencing today, multidisciplinary and new technological developments have greatly contributed to medicine.  

Currently, the development of artificial intelligence is a game-changer for medicine. Therefore, medical development strategies must further strengthen the integration of multiple disciplines to absorb and apply relevant theories from life sciences, mathematics, physics, humanities and social sciences for the purpose of facilitating medical development and technological progress.

Focus on life, safety and health, and offset weaknesses

Current methods and standards of discipline classification fail to tackle the new challenges and meet the requirements of the medical discipline system. Centering on the key problem of people’s safety, lives and health, we must build a new system of medical disciplines, which covers diverse aspects related to the individual, groups of people, human beings, treatment, prevention, diseases that occur frequently or suddenly, long-term development, longevity and so on.        

The future system of medical disciplines should be built on the past system of disciplines, expand some areas and shrink others . For instance, biosecurity and emergency medicine have attracted much attention in the prevention and control of COVID-19. They are also directly linked to individual lives and even human survival. Thus, we must widen, deepen, and strengthen these two fields to make them become parts of the “new system of medical disciplines”. In a situation where cancer cannot be fully cured, a large number of patients with cancer survivors still need long-term care and psychological support. Psychosocial oncology, which involves fields of medicine and sociology, should be an extension of the medical discipline system.    

The construction of academic disciplines is an important strategic task of colleges and universities and the key to their development. During the prevention and control of the pandemic, I find that the fundamental way of building disciplines lies in scientific practice, and in solving the vital scientific problems faced by the country and society. Within a week, we knew the whole genome sequence of the novel coronavirus, isolated the viral strain, and shared it with other countries in a timely manner. We launched various detection reagent products by stages, and quickly screened effective drugs and treatment programs. This fully demonstrates the crucial disciplinary value of medicine in the prevention and control of COVID-19, effectively promoting and enhancing the level of disciplinary construction. Therefore, the construction of “new medical science” needs to continuously stimulate the potential for innovation in practice and promote the development of disciplines.

Broaden students’ knowledge and pursue the medical cause

The fundamental task of constructing medical disciplines is to cultivate outstanding medical talents who master broad, rich, and basic theories and skills, and who are courageous enough to shoulder the responsibility of constructing a healthy China. In the prevention and control of the disease, I realize that the dedication to the medical profession and a broad range of knowledge are extremely important to the growth of an outstanding medical talent. Throughout the history of medical development, many distinguished medical professionals have achieved success, being humble and benevolent, devoting themselves to one thing, persisting in defeating diseases, and overcoming difficulties. In this epidemic, after the normal medical order was disrupted, many doctors from non-respiratory departments and other infection departments also participated in the treatment, and their broad knowledge enabled them to quickly switch to the roles and skills of specialists and undertake new tasks rapidly.

Translated by: Dong Xiaoqian

Edited by: Cao Siyi, Sylvia and Hu Sijia

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