THE WOUNDED HEALERS
As paradoxical as it may sound, but being a doctor, I generally avoid defending them. The reason is, that my point of view, howsoever true, will always be misconstrued. But the past few weeks have been especially distressing with news coming in from two different states that were disturbing and unfortunately had the doctors at the epicenter of both.
I am not going to defend them; I don’t need to. People know the reality; they know that the percentage of our GDP that’s allocated for health is way below average. They know that government hospitals are understaffed and perennially short of supplies. What I do not understand is, why the doctors or let me say, the medical fraternity, not viewed as human? And if they are viewed as Gods or demi Gods, then why are they not revered? Why at every instance, they are the first to be brought down and beaten up?
Wherever I go, if the discussion comes, everyone pours out their bad experiences with doctors. Never ever do I get to hear a good thing. How is that even logistically possible? Even if we consider health as a ‘commodity’, I request everyone be honest and answer this to yourself… Is the care of that ‘commodity’, solely the job of the medical fraternity? How you use it, how good your care is, is that not important?
And why is it that no one questions the decision makers, the powers that be. The way a particular lady reporter heckled at the doctor in an ICU, it was pathetic. She was apprehending him the way a teacher would accost an errant student. He was a senior resident, which means he’s just finished his MD in the last 1-3 years. How is he expected to increase the manpower, bring in the supplies and do his job?
In another instance, the doctors were told that just like the soldiers, they should be prepared to die in the ‘line of duty’. I have extreme respect for soldiers. I am not going to compare the two professions, but let me tell you that in the line of duty, the medical fraternity works under extreme conditions and are exposed to deadly diseases (and often succumb to them or go through extensive treatments at the cost of losing their jobs).
I am not sure how many of you have watched the second season of ‘Lakhon Main Ek’. There may be some minor exaggerations but it shows the stark reality of our health system. It traces an incident in the life of an idealist intern who is just beginning her career with stars in her eyes. I could see so much of myself in her. It’s almost every doctor’s journey in a government hospital in India. Please watch it to understand what happens behind the scenes.
I can go on and on, but it’ll be taken as a rant from a frustrated doctor. I am not frustrated nor do I rant. I just want you to remember that every time a doctor is attacked, others around him/her become cautious. They stop taking risks. And these aren’t random chances that I am talking about. These are medical decisions based on experience made after careful deliberations. When a doctor stops taking those risks, who bears the brunt of that?
If you can’t help them, let them atleast do their job fearlessly and without bias. If a doctor’s judgement is clouded because a mob is sitting on his head then the onus of a bad call lies with the mob! Imagine an uncooperative boss, an irate client sitting on your head, multiply it manifold and then replace your task with a human life. You might begin to get the feeling a doctor gets.
I have friends who have stopped running ICUs because they are scared for their lives. Most of us do not want our children to go in the medical profession despite and in spite of their merit. If more and more meritorious students opt out, aren’t we compromising on the quality of doctors who will pass out in the years to come?
Today I exhort you, not as a doctor but as a fellow citizen. Please think it over before you blame the doctors for EVERYTHING that’s wrong with the healthcare set up, before you question a medical decision or worse before you have the urge to hit a doctor.
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