By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 10: The Assam branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has appealed to the Assam Government to make its rural health service more attractive, doctor-friendly and appealing so as to attract doctors to rural areas.
Talking to newsmen in Guwahati today in the aftermath of the Government threatening doctors of cancelling their medical registration in the event of their refusal to serve people in remote areas like Majuli, IMA’s Assam State branch president Dr. H Adhikary and secretary Dr. Satyajit Borah said: “We’re worried over the growing trend of negative attitudes towards doctors from all like the society, the government and the media. Doctors are finding it more and more difficult to serve, mostly in the periphery and rural areas, firstly in view of the newly defined doctor-patient relationship, secondly because of a number of legislations restricting medical practice and service and the last but not the least because of the general mistrust that has crept up into the society at large. On almost every incident of death and complication there is a rapidly growing tendency of blaming the treating the doctor of negligence. It is a terrifying situation when the lonely physician working in a remote area loses a patient. The instant reaction in most of the cases is of the doctor being abused, assaulted and treated like a crimil and the healthcare premises being vandalized by a frenzy mob. The media is quick in reporting these incidents unilaterally, immediately implicating the doctor of negligence and inefficiency. Later on the physician may come out innocent, but the damage done by reporting such incidents, by repeatedly flashing the humiliation with glaring headlines in television, cannot be reversed. The mental trauma of the physician of losing the patient, the added agony of public humiliation of an inevitable situation is demoralizing, defaming and it shakes the very confidence of the physician. The situation has come to such a pass that even a reputed and sincere doctor is scared of treating a serious patient. Doctors are greatly reluctant to go to far-flung rural areas to serve; and even in trivially serious patient is referred to a higher centre for fear of being negligent. But who is suffering in the long run? Is it not the common people and the hapless relatives?”
Dr. Adhikary and Borah said: “Now there is a growing tendency not only to accuse doctors but to demand cancellation of registration of a doctor immediately after such an incident. Lately even the government has threatened doctors of cancelling registration for not obeying government orders. The IMA is for full discipline in service and demands punishment to erring doctors under the service rule, however amputating the physician of the hard-earned license, to practice on such issues can never be acceptable. People fail to understand that this country has a severe dearth of doctors to the extent that the government had to extend the retiring age of doctors. De-licensing is reserved for gross professiol negligence or misconduct.”
They further said that another ill-effect of such negative campaign against doctors and such vindictive attitude of the government led lead to less number of doctors willing to join government health service and work in the periphery. “This deprives a lot of people of good health care. While the rural population waits expectantly for the government for better and better health care services the reverse is seen to be happening. For a welcome change to occur the government is expected to attract more and more doctors by making the rural health service more doctor-friendly, attractive and appealing. But by taking such ill advised, intimidating, vindictive and threatening approach towards doctors of even cancelling medical registration, we cannot make much headway in rural health service. We request this new popular government to give a serious thought through practical approach to the health care problems of the common people as well as the doctors as a group of citizens who give some best years of their lives to academics then offer their services in sometimes hostile, iccessible and backward areas.”
They rued the fact that the service condition for doctors is not the same as before. “Today there are so many legislations imposed on the medical community by the government that sometime doctors have to protect themselves from legal hassles and give a blind eye to humanitarian angles,” they said, and added: “We admit that in recent years doctors have also become more city-centric, and are reluctant to serve in rural or even semi-urban areas. We make an earnest appeal to the new government in the state to improve infrastructure of the government hospitals, health centres and medical colleges; to create a dedicated efficient maintence team to look into the upkeep of these places; create specialist cadre, improve security of these places so that doctors are not assaulted or harassed and to offer fincial, academic and familial incentives to the rural service holders. The government is bound to see doctors making a beeline to join such an elite service.”