Ripudaman Singh Bajwa

Final Year, GMC Patiala

As I switched on the television on Sunday evening, I was welcomed with a hashtag #SaveTheDoctors glistening over the screen, quite bold and clear. My ten-year-old cousin, who was unsettled over the loss of TV control, asked me something that gave me a chill down my spine. Her little yet substantial understanding about the social practices, despite the juvenile age, was convincing about why today the saviours themselves had to be saved.

Violence against healthcare workers is a global phenomenon today; the scale, frequency and viciousness of attacks have shocked the whole world. Be it some doctor losing his eyesight in Maharashtra, India or being bedridden for grievous hurts during a night call; the healthcare industry is going through some mighty troubles. Healthcare professionals are now four times more likely to get injured in a workplace than otherwise, according to occupational safety and health administration. Tolerating violence is being another part of this job, a perspective that needs to be changed.

According to a study by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), over 75% of doctors have faced violence at work. The number would escalate higher if we ask the nursing staff and paramedics, who every day come across abusive mouths or experience some random blows. To add to this, the situation gets worse as scores of these abusive threats, intimidation and physical violence continue to remain underreported. A cross-sectional survey amongst 1889 healthcare workers found out that as many as 83.3% had been exposed to workplace violence. There is nothing amusing but all sad about how healthcare workers have become easy targets for illiterate and politically motivated goons. No professional would spend years mastering the art of using a surgical scalpel and one day getting brutally pounced upon with the very same. An Indian Legislator from U.P. has been recently booked on the charges of murder, rioting and voluntarily causing hurt. Now, this wouldn’t be alien to most of our ears as this is how we are ruled, sadly. Healthcare professionals and the dilapidated infrastructure bore the brunt as goons showed an example of utter disrespect and the rising severity of attacks. Local leaders remain silent with the government doing something substantial only after this popularizes as opposition propaganda. Such episode inside a public hospital makes us wonder how disrespectful we as human beings have become in today’s societal norms no matter how much diligence is showed. This case just like the numerous others continues to worsen the scenario for the affected medical fraternity absorbing attacks as easy targets.

Countless strikes, complaints have followed and you can never know if another medico is being a target of violence in the Indian subcontinent and beyond as you read this. Despite this, vulnerability and perspectives continue to disappoint. With the meagre steps taken, stormy days are there to stay for the health industry. If you ask me, this cannot be accepted as just another part of the healthcare responsibilities we carry with ourselves. The time to catch the bull by the horns has been knocking at our doorsteps from long with shouts, loud cries and more but very little has been done to address this. As a notification of the ‘Prevention of Violence againstMedicare persons and Institutes act’, as many as in 19 Indian states, still fail to curb this menace revealing that it’s time for our lawmakers to actually – “SaveTheDoctors”. Who do we blame? The system which fails to provide even basic rights after years of being the largest democracy, the people who have actually become easily manipulative and are played by certain adverse motivations or everything related?.

I wish to let you all give a thought to the fact that when widely disliked politicians and bureaucrats are not subjected to even anything near this barbarity despite all the discontent amongst the public, then why the doctors?.

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