Dr Talha Faiyazuddin | Caravan Daily
THE assaults on the medical fraternity have progressively been on the rise for some time. Taking into account the latest case of NSRMCH, which opened the scars, it can be stated that it has almost become like routine. It may be politicized and communalized, but it doesn’t change the fact that doctors are facing violence on a frequent basis now. Studies show that more than 75% doctors have faced some form of violence or the other while on duty.
When doctors all over the country are protesting against the assaults on the medical fraternity, it needs to be understood why this is happening and be clear on what is wanted.
Slogans of “we want justice” are being raised in the protests and demands for security are being strongly voiced. However, the need of the hour is to not just get justice for one case but prevent similar incidents from happening in future. Representations are going on for an act, a preferably stringent one at that, which would curb the assaults.
In fact, there are already acts in place. Section 353 in the Indian Penal Code mentions that any assault or criminal force deterring public servants from discharging their duties (which include Government Hospital Doctors) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or even with both.
Moreover, a special act has also been passed by the various state legislatures, that the offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of three years and with fine, which may extend to fifty thousand rupees. Unfortunately, the act awaits to be implemented as of yet.
The act in itself cannot deter the mob assaults on doctors. The mindset and attitude of the public need to change at the same time. Some black sheep within the fraternity and exaggerated movies on the rare criminal offences by a minute percentage of doctors is deterring mass education. The public should be made aware of the laws which are there to keep the doctors in check and that it is the more dignified way of holding the medical professionals to account, rather than grabbing the white coats.
It’s not just the doctors, but students and people of weaker sections have also faced the wrath of the ‘mob culture’ in India. The poisonous hate speeches of politicians encouraging unnatural feelings of superiority and discrimination have created uncontrollable mobs which have no regard for the law. This hate mongering and poison spewing if not timely checked into, might inevitably turn the country into a lawless ‘lynchistan’.
The system of medical education also needs to be addressed. The young doctors are to be taught their legal rights and the ethics of medical practice. They should be specially taught the way of interacting with patients and their attendants and to express empathy as an integral part of the curriculum. If this is not done, unfortunately, then, self-defence will have to be included in the curriculum!
Assaults is not the only issue faced by doctors. There’s a false accusation of hardworking doctors and they are also subject to being wrongly suspected, like Dr. Kafeel Khan, by the failed governments to cover for their own incompetence. Not to forget the high-pressure working environment and the workplace caste discrimination of doctors, like Dr. Payal Tadvi.
There are many medical issues, some of which are the root causes of several troubles not only faced by doctors face but also the people, like lack of enough healthcare professionals and efficient infrastructure, leading to overworked frustrated doctors and under-treated, angry patients. Unless the roots of the problems are addressed and solved in their entirety, the issues will continue to persist.
The writer is a doctor studying medicine at the Osmania Medical College.