India has a reputation for being a soft country – one that is known to accept the bitter, forgive the evil, be essentially God-fearing, prefer a peaceful course of life and let go of anything that is popularly unpalatable. Needless to say that doctors in India are placed on a much higher pedestal than any of the other public servants and are highly revered, sometimes even equalized with Gods.
Given such a premise, the current violence against doctors that we have been witnessing since the inception of Covid-19, comes as a punch of shock. Although there had been sporadic instances of hyper-emotional public attacking doctors due to the unexpected mishaps with patients who are near and dear ones, yet the cases of attacks were quite rare and limited to rural zones. But currently it seems as if the unexpected outbreak of Covid-19 has taken a huge toll over the sanity of the public as they display exaggerated outrage against the Doctors in charge, making the healthcare professionals responsible for the sudden deaths of family members. This is indeed a matter of serious social concern and it’s time people should be read a lecture about their anti-social behavior which is getting accelerated with every passing day.
Headlines, print, electronic or digital, are flooded with headlines about how doctors have become the easiest targets of public frustration during the Covid crisis and how they are being frequently being surrounded by protesters, as well as verbally abused and attacked by mobs of violence. Some newsworthy ones are like the brutal assault of 60 year old doctor in Talcher Odisha, the attack of a Junior doctor at Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad by the patient’s family after losing their loved one, the violent pelting of stones on healthcare providers in Indore while screening patients, etc .
Horrific incidents of abusing doctors have even gone to a disturbing extent of spitting on them, blackmailing them and kicking them out of their residences. It seems as if people want immediate recovery from the incomprehensible Corona virus, which is by default severely contagious and to a large extent fatal. But we all should bear in mind that the nature of this virus is equally baffling and incomprehensible for the doctors as well. Dedicated medicines or vaccines are yet not invented to combat the pandemic. Research is still happening at full speed to invent permanent treatment for it. Amidst such circumstances, all that the doctors and healthcare professionals could do is to put their existing knowledge into use to nip the bud of virus in case of Corona patients. It is imperative to understand that they are equally human like any one of us and are bound by human limitations. Any kind of abuse or attack making the doctors responsible for the loss of lives is just an evidence of the immense immaturity in the part of locals and public.
Doctors and healthcare officials are under serious threat in current situation and they have expressed their concerns in various platforms. Although the Government and Police have been vigilant throughout, yet the medical associations want the larger system to pull up their socks and take stringent measures against the culprits henceforth. One of them is the proposal of a Bill saying “that anybody causing grievous hurt(as defined under Section 320 of IPC) to a doctor or any other healthcare professional will be imprisoned for up to 10 years…with a fine which shall not be less than Rs.50,000 but which may extend up to Rs.5 lakhs.” (economictimes.indiatimes.com).
On the other hand the public should understand that the healthcare industry is in the most vulnerable zone in present situation. While everyone else is practicing social distancing to ensure personal safety, Doctors are bound to be physically out there and serve the public. When the whole world is locked behind doors, it is indeed a brave feat on the part of the medical professionals for pitching into the hospitals and being present for us in such scary times. For instance, an eight-month pregnant Nurse traveled as long as 250 kms from Tiruchi to Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu during the nationwide lock-down to extend her help and support to Covid patients.
Isn’t it exemplary!! Isn’t it much more than mere applause!! There are many such healthcare providers who have donned the hat of selflessness and have left no rock unturned in furnishing their duties, with or without masks. Any kind of assault on them is nothing short of sin. It is the need of the hour to acknowledge their commendable jobs, counsel agitated people around us who are full with venom against them and generate compassion and empathy for the Doctors amongst people through social media.