Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I am told you are awake 20 hours in a day of 24 hours. If it is a fact, I am sure the recent developments in our health care arena would have made your 56-inch chest swell to 65 inches!
With each incidence of violence on doctors, your rib cage must have expanded by a millimetre at least!
I am a doctor with big degrees who does some charitable work of my own will as a part of my duty towards society. Nobody tells me to do so. I do it of my own, as most of my fellow doctors do so. I am so relieved today that I am not in a government job. I am so relieved to be without any broken bones or skull or any stab. My wife, children, and my parents are equally relieved to see me alive in this country where you are forced to be a martyr because of system failures.
It happens with Armed Forces, Police, CRPF regularly. We doctors are no exceptions. We are bound to be bonded to sacrifice on the line of duty. Fair enough! Alas, we are made a martyr in the hands of our own countrymen! The correct word for this coward act of violence by the hooligans (or Rakshaks of the society, as they would want themselves to be called) would be backstabbing if not Harakiri!
Please understand Mr. Prime Minister that we doctors have more wisdom regarding the lacunae in the health care systems than your Bureaucrats or the Legislators who are busy playing politics in the 100+ Dead bodies of children who have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. The ever so well-dressed Sushashan babu takes seven days to get ready to visit the devastated families. Muzaffarpur is only 70 kms from Patna. The distance is almost the distance between Noida and Gurugram or between Churchgate to Virar, just in case, anybody’s geography is very bad.
The doctors have not failed the society, the society and system have failed the healthcare professionals.
A meager 1.4 per cent of the GDP you are allotting to health in the budget and you wish to have a fantastic system in place! Great thoughts, great Wisdom! All the better healthcare system countries are actually wasting their money when they are spending 5-6 per cent on Health!
Our TB, Filaria, Malaria, etc. programme have taken more than 50 years to be just as incomplete and they had begun! We Nation should take pride in that!
The privatization of medical colleges to increase the number of medical colleges has been a brilliant idea to rehabilitate the young millionaires and billionaires who otherwise would have been the last rank holders in a fair system. The lateral entry I guess! I am sure this word will resonate in the corridors of power.
And despite all these, you have a shortage of doctors. Actually, there is hardly a health policy worth its name in the country.
You say that the doctors don’t want to serve in rural areas. Yes! Correct! They don’t want. Why should they? When you don’t have a rural posting compulsory for an engineer, lawyer, and lecturers or for that matter of fact, any profession, why force it to the doctors!
Moreover, the Doctors should serve the villages without any facilities and infrastructure from the government, to attain martyrdom!
“Aa Bail Mujhe Maar” When the system is not able to protect the lives of doctors in big cities, how does the government do the magic of turnaround in the villages? As I said, the system fails us. Sir, please remember that every young doctor is some parent’s precious child, not just a scapegoat!
Many times in your speeches, you have said that the Gujaratis have inborn business sense. You come from Gujarat. I ask you, Sir, suppose there is a doctor resource crunch in the villages, what you should be doing!
Think Sir, the answers will stare at your face.
You want to provide cheap healthcare. Very nice! However, the government thinks that the patients are not patients. They are consumers and we are service providers. The consumer protection forum treats the relationship between the doctors and the patients as such. India has just copied the concept from western countries. The result, high healthcare cost! Where is the trust and purity of the relationship? This is one of the root causes of the present day abyss. Increased litigations mean increased blackmail and thus increased insecurities in the minds of the doctors! Incidentally, I just wonder why we do not have political and bureaucratic negligence, railways, and transport negligence, lawyers and CAs negligence and very importantly judicial negligence!
By the way, belonging to the medical fraternity, I want to share a secret with you. Today, most of the doctors are afraid of taking up serious cases and have started referring to higher centres (Who wants to be blind or in a coma or paralysed in case the patient is not doing well!). The other secret is much more open. People don’t want their children to become Doctors after seeing the uncertainty in the profession and brutality ushered on to them, as they see it in the media.
Incidentally, for the society, this means Harakiri!
Dr. Anshuman Manaswi
Plastic Surgeon, Mumbai
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