National Chronicle

Healthcare workers facing the worst COVID brunt

What this pandemic has done is reveal the unsavoury reality of the healthcare system of India and the dangers the health workers are exposed to. The countless number of attacks on the health professionals has only led to the decreased morale and motivation of the healthcare workers waging a war on behalf of the world against the COVID-19 pandemic. During this crucial time when there is a need of increased sensitivity , sensibility and empathy what has come to the forefront is the complete opposite. The attacks were not specific to an area or a community, they have encompassed a number of cities throughout the country from Delhi, Indore, Chennai to cities in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. What triggers this behaviour? What can be done to stop this violence against the doctors?

Firstly, there should be better implementation of the law. Even though Medical Protection Act is in Place it fails to be effective as it is neither featured in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) nor in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which makes it increasingly difficult for the victim to file a complaint against the suspect. However what this pandemic has yield is the implementation of a better law The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinances 2020, where now it is a non bailable offence with up to 7 years of imprisonment and Rs 5 Lakh in fine. What needs to be done for further protection of the doctors and healthcare professional is the effective Implementation of this law in the absence of an epidemic as well. Secondly, there needs to be in place a security team to protect the doctors. Another contributing factor is the immensely disproportionate doctor to patient ratio with 1 doctor for 1400 patients. The recruitment of more doctors may decrease the violence against doctors as the patients will feel less anxious.
Additionally, from the perspective of the healthcare workers, the young doctors should receive better training in regard to the communication skills. The young doctors should be trained to develop better interpersonal relationships and provide clear understanding of the procedures and treatment plan to the patients and their relatives. Emphasis should be laid on how to pacify and deal with the grieving relatives as more often than not the attack is instigated by a relative.

Lastly, it is imperative to bring about a systemic change to curb the violence against the healthcare professional. This change can only be achieved by starting a dialogue with the administration, health professional and the public. The mob violence against the doctors in this pandemic should be taken as an initiation of such a movement. The dialogue will help us better understand as to why the people identified with a mob when they were aware of the repercussion and consequences of failed testing. This understanding can only be achieved through dialogue. To completely obliterate the issue of violence against the healthcare professional is when the government, the health department and the public work together.

Dr Manisha Yadav
Developmental pediatrician
Indian spinal and injury centre

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