Video Editors: Vivek Gupta, Sandeep Suman
Voice Over: Athar Rather
Doctors and medical staff have been at the forefront in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. In India, around 800 doctors have lost their lives in the second wave alone. But despite serving people with selflessness, medical professionals are regularly assaulted and abused in the country. Many of them work with job insecurities, and practise amid tragic conditions.
Vulnerable to Physical Violence
Reports of doctors being beaten up by kin of patients have become increasingly common in India. On 1 June, Dr Seuj Kumar Senapati, posted at a COVID Care Centre (CCC) in Udali in Assam’s Hojai district, was brutally beaten and thrashed by utensils and brooms by a mob that included the family members of a deceased patient. An on-duty woman doctor was assaulted by the relative of a COVID patient in Ballari, Karnataka on 23 May. There are countless similar incidents from across the country.
Besides being under constant fear of being attacked by the kin of patients, doctors have been assaulted by police too.
Harassed And Abused By Politicians
Adding insult to the grievances of doctors is abusive behaviour of several politicians, who put additional pressure on the medics. A local Congress councillor abused and threatened to beat up a doctor at Jagdalpur's COVID Care Centre on 2 June. Similarly, during the peak of the pandemic, on 21 April, Shiv Sena corporator Sandhya Doshi reportedly misbehaved with healthcare staff of civic-run Bhagwati Hospital in Mumbai. There have been several such incidents.
It is unfortunate that doctors have to go through such trauma even after being touted as 'warriors' and 'gods'.
Working With Substandard Equipment And Crippling Medical Infrastructure
Throughout the pandemic, doctors served with their heart and soul to help as many patients as they could. They worked long hours and even risked the safety of their own families. But they were forced to make further compromises when many of them, at COVID centres in small towns, worked without PPE kits because there weren't enough of them. Even if supplied with safety gears, many doctors complained that they were given torn PPE kits and substandard masks.
Apart from inadequate safety equipment, several hospitals are functioning in terrible conditions. Doctors are overworked and understaffed. Darbhanga's DMCH was flooded with sewage water after a spell of rainfall in May 2021. Every year, doctors and patients there have to suffer these hellish conditions.
Unpaid Salaries And Job Insecurities
Such adversities can take a toll on the mental health of medical staff, which is already stressed with fighting coronavirus.
Merely paying grand tributes and hailing them as 'gods' won't do any good to doctors in India. Instead, what they deserve is a better work environment and empathy.