An attack on doctors at a university medical hospital in Calcutta for the death of a patient has become the focal point of an agitation by medical professionals that is causing anguish to tens of thousands. There can be no argument against the main demands of doctors: a safe work environment and measures to ensure that unsuccessful treatments do not become triggers for retaliation. The Medical Association of India, which seeks to take care of the interests of doctors and the welfare of the community, has backed the demands and called a strike on June 17. Whatever the provocation, the violence that seriously injured a doctor is indefensible, and the culprit must be taken to the book. However, the remedy can not only consist of new legal provisions for crimes that are already covered by special laws in some states and in the Indian Penal Code. On the other hand, there are clear factors that are deepening the social gap. The main ones are the abandonment of the public health sector, unattainable treatments under a predominantly commercialized service delivery system, the reluctance of state governments to fill vacancies in public hospitals and the increasing cost of medical education in the private sector. Some of these concerns were underscored in a review of violence against physicians by the National medical magazine of India two years ago.
The effort to end violence against doctors and medical professionals must begin with the understanding that doctors and patients do not have an antagonistic relationship, and barriers to care created by systemic deficiencies should be eliminated. In the case of Kolkata, it must be determined if there was a delay in the treatment due to labor shortage, as the patient's relatives affirm. The police statement indicates that a communication failure aggravated the situation. It did not help that the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, took a hard line against the agitators doctors from the beginning, without giving a fair opportunity to the negotiations. Taking into account the consequences of the interruption for patients in several states where doctors have responded to calls of protest, it is essential that Ms. Banerjee communicates with the medical community and restore normalcy. The IMA should help to arrive at a solution that can address the concerns of both doctors and patients: establish better systems to advise patients and eliminate unreasonable expectations about treatment outcomes. A structural change is needed. The National Health Policy of the NDA government, which is committed to increasing public health spending to 2.5% of GDP, should pay as much attention to the expansion of infrastructure and capacities of government hospitals, as provide financial protection for treatment in expensive private hospitals. They are the public hospitals to which the poor go, in search of compassion.
Posted in: Health, Remedies | Tags: agitation, amp, Bengal, Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee, doctor, doctors, editorial, government of NDA, Kolkata, Medical Association of India, medical professionals, medical university hospital, Missing, National Medical Journal of India, patient agitation, Politics National Health, remedies, safe work environment, strike, system of care provision marketed, t] public health sector, vacancies in public hospitals, West