Doctors need full support and protection to treat patients in pandemic

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By Dr. Arun Mitra

A doctor was called to the police station for inquiry into a complaint lodged by him against someone who had misbehaved with him. The police officer asked the doctor that why he did not retaliate when the said person was misbehaving. The doctor politely replied that as a doctor he is not trained to shout at anyone but to be modest, polite, caring, listening and serving to best of his ability. This is true for most of the medical professionals who have been bound with the books in their teenage and then on entry into the medical college further burdened with the huge syllabus which they must remember to be a doctor.

To meet the expectations of society he is trained to be modest, caring and polite towards the persons who visit him for advice. During the training, he forgets that once he comes into the practice of medicine there is much difference between what he has been taught and what he has to do as a practitioner particularly in respect to social behaviour. Generally speaking, medical students are not educated on how to win over the confidence of the patient and how to communicate with them in the event of a crisis.

Therefore for a young doctor many a time it becomes difficult to tell the attendants about the pattern of the disease. In case of death of the patient, it is further a hard task for the young doctor to inform. Therefore it is very important that the young medicos are trained in the art of communication. It has become all the more important because degeneration in society can be seen in every sphere and with the lowering of moral values, sometimes the attendants of the deceased overreact and even become violent towards the doctor. Young doctors have to face the wrath more often because they are the immediate contact with the attendants.
Violent behaviour of the attendants often is an immediate reaction because they had not apprehended a serious happening to their patient. Therefore they can easily blame the doctors for negligence. It is not that incidents of negligence do not occur, but it is not a routine as the doctor has to meet up to her/his reputation in the society and continue with getting goodwill of the patients. At times there are elements who suddenly crop up when such incidents occur and instigate the attendants to be in their good books and even worse they try to extract money from the doctor. Such incidents have lately increased in all parts of the country leading to extreme violence against the doctors at some places.
The doctors have now started protesting and demanding from the government to make laws against such people who indulge into violence against them, their staff or cause damage to property. Some states have come up with such laws but they have not been implemented in letter and spirit. Therefore the doctors are now demanding central legislation to the fact which should be a guiding force for all the states to adopt and for this, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had given a call for National Protest Day on 18th June.

Violence is not the only issue that the doctors are protesting against. The doctors have been under much physical and mental stress during the ongoing pandemic. Giving long duties in the PPEs has been a horrendous task. This has brought a definite behavioural problem in them which has affected their family life as well. The family members of such doctors on COVID duties are equally under stress and fear. There has been demand that such health workers should not be put on more than four hours duty in one day in the COVID wards. In many parts of the country, however, the doctors have not been given their due. Just showering flowers on them from the airplanes cannot build up their morale. The doctors protested when they were not being provided the basic equipment to protect themselves from the virus. They also protested for higher wages when on such duties. Nearly 3000 doctors in Madhya Pradesh have threatened to submit mass resignations in case their demands are not fulfilled. This has conveyed their feelings to the government and the society that they are ready to work but must be given due care in return.
But protests by the doctors have generated anger in the ruling government. Dr Kafeel Khan of Gorakhpur was arrested for raising the issue of oxygen shortage tragedy that led to the deaths of more than a hundred children. Similarly, Dr Sudhakar Rao a doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Doctors were outraged when the Union Health Minister started promoting Coronil manufactured by Ramdev who had claimed it to be a remedy against the COVID but had no evidence for it. Modern science is dynamic and believes in evidence-based practice. Therefore it is amenable to changes with time in the process of development of science. Ramdev said that people died despite the doctors and despite the oxygen and due to vaccines. This has been highly contested by none other than the IMA. They even demanded FIR against Ramdev for his utterings which could damage the management of COVID as it could give strength to the unscientific ideas among the people’s minds who could be influenced and become hesitant to adopt scientific medical treatment for the management of the disease.

Unfortunately, neither the Health Minister nor the Prime Minister took any notice of this demand of the doctors. This anti-science attitude of the higher-ups in the government has further irked many medical personnel. No wonder the Prime Minister as long back as in 2014 had claimed that ancient India had the technical know-how to transplant an elephant’s head on a human body. This was contested by many medical scientists. But it was an indication that how the message has to be percolated down to the people in the coming period. No wonder as an obedient servant Dr. Nageshwar Rao – Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University in Indian Science Congress in January 2019 said that ancient India had the technology of stem cells in. That is how we see the propagation of the use of cow urine cow dung or religious rituals to fight back the COVID and spread of anti-science ideas. (IPA Service)

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