Health Sector: Needs Urgent Treatment

R K Sinha

Last month some attendants and relatives of a patient in Kolkata badly assaulted a doctor. The incident created an explosive situation in medical profession affecting services in hospitals across the country. Doctors went on strike in protest all over the country leading to sufferings of hundreds of thousands of patients as Out Patient Departments were shut in hospitals. They were demanding adequate security and protection in hospitals.
On the other hand, patients and their relatives say that the only objective of doctors these days is to make money by all means. They are bent upon ‘looting’ patients. They (doctors) prescribe one test after another even in case when tests are not required for treatment. Once tests are over patients are advised to go for surgery. It is a common knowledge that the main income of private hospitals comes from various expensive medical tests and surgery.
How doctors will realise the amount of money spent on medical education in private medical colleges running into crore of rupees if they charge nominal fee and prescribe medicines that are necessary for treatment. In this given situation of allegations and counter allegations it is the medical profession which is getting tainted.
Here it must be said that even patients and their relatives will have to show calm and composer. They just can’t indulge in assault and violence with doctors. There are reports from various parts of the country that attendants of patients beat up doctors alleging that doctor on duty was not giving proper attention to the patient or doctor on duty was indifferent to the urgency of treatment. How relatives of patient can find out if proper treatment is not being given to the patient by the doctor on duty?
Now let us consider the anguish of attendant of patient. This is a fact that attendants of patients in serious condition are normally in a state of mental stress. The relatives of patients too should show patience. In no condition they can be allowed to blacken the face of doctor or break his skull. They don’t have any right to take law into their hands. Campaign against corrupt doctors gets weakened by such conduct of relatives of patients. As a matter of fact the need is to generate a sweet relationship between doctors, patients and patients’ relatives. But initiative has to come from doctors. A patient is like a customer and customer is no less than God. So far doctors are concerned for a patient doctor is no less than a God. The need of the hour is to adopt a more humble and courteous behaviour in hospitals by all stake holders.
In the meantime it is wrong to say that all doctors are bad and all doctors are running after money. There are good number of doctors who are doing their job with sincerity and commitment to the medical service. They are on duty from morning till late in the evening. But a few doctors are not doing their job honestly and with transparency. Such doctors are not doing justice to the medical profession.
In India, people associated with medical profession are not doing any major research in the field of treatment and remedy to a disease. This is a fact that one should admit. But allegations are rampant against doctors for taking cut from pharmaceutical companies and making money by dubious means. Are these allegations wrong? How one shall expect patients and their relatives to hold such class of doctors in good esteem.
Deaths in Bihar
Death of more than 125 children due to ‘encephalitis’ in Bihar is a serious matter. It is a shame for the medical profession in India that there is no preventive medicine or vaccine to save life of children. Why it is that we are not able to defeat this deadly disease of AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome). In Muzaffarpur, this is a recurring cycle of AES every year during this season for the last 20 years. It vanishes once monsoon rains arrive. Last year many children had died in Gorakhpur due to Encephalitis.
Union Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan who visited Muzaffarpur has assured the nation that research will be undertaken to find the cause and cure of the AES. There has been research on AES but no positive result came out in the past.
In Bihar 125 people died due to heat stroke in Aurangabad, Gaya and in some other parts of the state. This was revealed by Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
In such a situation it is duty of doctors to expose ‘black ships’ in the medical profession in the country. The Indian Medical Association should also tighten screws to tame doctors who are found indulging in corrupt and unethical practices.
What is happening in India today is going to affect ‘medical tourism’. Many people from abroad come to India for medical treatment because of good medical service which is available at a cheaper cost in India compared to other countries.
Countries such as Singapore, Thailand, China and Japan are engaged in attracting people for ‘medical tourism’. Medical tourism fetches millions of dollars in India.
Every year lakhs of people from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Arab world and from African countries come here for treatment. In 2017 from Afghanistan alone 55,618 people came for medical treatment. Large number of foreigners come to India for treatment of disease related to heart, orthopaedic, eyes etc.
This is time to improve medical service in India.
(The writer is a Rajya Sabha Member)