Why Are Doctors So Vulnerable, asks Dr Priya G Modi

In conversation with Digpu, Dr.Priya G Modi, MBBS, MD Radiology, speaks on the numerous cases of harassment and violence against Doctors that have emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘They say the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’ – Mahatma Gandhi

“Gone are the days where we took pride in our profession, where one would aspire to choose medicine and dream of treating sick patients. Our profession knows no religion, no race, no ethnicity, no socio-economic status. We only know humanity is the only religion and we serve it dedicatedly so where did we go wrong?”, Dr Priya G Modi asks.

Since the last few years, there is an increase in violence towards doctors. Even now, when the entire world is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, our doctors and health care people in India were attacked by illiterates and educated people alike. No one ponders upon why are the front line workers subjected to so much violence. Dr Priya shares an incident when her medical team had to face severe stone pelting while a visit to trace a primary contact in the wake of COVID-19.

In Bengaluru, medical workers were thumped when they had gone door to door checking people for symptoms. Similarly, in Bhopal, doctors returning from an emergency shift were stopped by the police, accused of spreading the virus and were thrashed. In New Delhi, the doctor was assaulted by a shopper at a local fruit market and many such incidents have come to light.One video, which has gone viral, showed a mob pelting stones at two female doctors wearing personal protective equipment in the central city of Indore. It was so shocking to see that Tablighi Jamaat Patients were making vulgar signs, roaming naked in the hospital premises and demanding cigarettes in a Ghaziabad hospital where they were being treated.

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Dr Priya says, “How can someone or any government justify this? Are we doing anything wrong by serving people? Forget about basic dignity, do we not deserve humane behaviour at least? We are ready to get infected, but we can’t take beatings and verbal abuse like this.”Recently, the central government has announced that assault on health and paramedical staff is proposed to be punished with jail ranging from three months to five years and fine between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh.

Dr Priya G Modi says,” I want to thank our government. I feel protected but our law takes years to give the verdict and people get released on bail, people keep assaulting doctors and health workers. If this violence against doctors and health workers becomes a routine, then the day is not far when young minds stop taking medicine as their field of education. Many others would leave the country and the rest would join corporates where they are provided security. In such a scenario, no one will be ready to work in primary and community health centres in remote areas/ villages/ suburban regions.

Dr Priya also discussed some solutions that can help protect and secure the front-line health workers. They are – improving the availability of services, employing enough doctors, taking mandatory steps to reduce the rush of patients and reduce long waiting hours, which leads to mob restlessness.

She further says that provision of internet technology in hospitals located in remote areas is a must. Apart from this, the hospital security must always be evaluated.

Dr Priya also suggests restricting the number of attendants in the hospital. She says she is waiting to see a New India for the medical profession as well

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