NEW YORK (TIP): Physicians in India feel threatened and their lives are in danger. Some hospital administrators have begun to hire muscular looking bouncers, whose imposing presence deters patients’ relatives from aggressive behavior. The medical fraternity in several states is on strike, due to the recent incidents of violence against doctors. This is not good for the people we are committed to care and also is not benefiting the Doctors.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister of India and several high ranking officials at the Government of India, Dr. Ajay Lodha, President of AAPI, condemned the ongoing violence against physicians across several states in India.
“We at AAPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the nation, urge the government of India to make all the efforts possible and put an end to this ongoing violence against medical professionals and enable them to continue to serve the country with dignity, pride and security,” Dr. Lodha said in the letter sent to the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Health Minister, India’s ambassador to the US and the Ambassador of the US to India.
Recalling that from ancient times, physicians across India and around the world have been revered for dedicating their lives for the noble mission of preventing people from getting and saving millions of lives of people from illnesses, Dr. Lodha told the Indian government that “we as a community of physicians and individual members of this fraternity have decided to go into the medical profession with the best of intentions. We as physicians want to help people, ease suffering and save lives. Physicians of Indian origin are well known around the world for their compassion, passion for patient care, medical skills, research, and leadership.”
Expressing shock that despite these noble intentions, many doctors and nurses put their own lives on the line in the course of their jobs, facing attacks from the very people they are trying to help. “Violence against doctors has reached such an extreme in India that the medical staff is afraid to come to work and they need a police presence in the hospitals where they work,” Dr. Lodha said.
For instance, 49 doctors have been attacked in the state of Maharashtra alone since 2015. “The violence against physicians in India, will put a dent in these area, where we have been growing rapidly as world leaders and will cause irrevocable damage to the health industry in India and our image will be tarnished forever, Dr. Lodha pointed out.
Pointing to reports by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), he said, more than 75% of the population of doctors have had to deal with some degree of violence or aggression directed at them, according to. Shockingly, a large proportion of doctors don’t report such incidents, believing them to be a part of the job so the true figures are likely to be higher. Incidents vary from minor verbal abuse all the way through to the murder or attempted murder of staff, Dr. Lodha said.
While security needs to be strengthened, enhancing the doctor-patient relationship is undoubtedly the most important factor in reducing violence. Improving the quality of medical facilities and reducing the financial burden on patient’s families is also important as large payments may be catastrophic for poorer people and if they then encounter poor facilities too, this may engender a feeling of corruption. There is even an online petition in change.org seeking safe work environment for doctors.
According to Lodha, this recent rapid increase in violence has the potential to tarnish India’s image globally as a rising super power. One of the world’s fastest growing economics, India is a dynamic market with immense opportunities in healthcare. With pioneering Indian companies offering a global work culture, India is becoming a preferred career destination for professionals looking for exceptional individual learning and unique growth opportunities. And, in recent decades, India is turning medical tourism hub, attracting millions of people from abroad.
The members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), an umbrella organization which has nearly 90 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations, with over 35 years of history of dedicated services to their motherland and the adopted land, are appalled at the growing violence against our fellow physicians in India, Dr. Lodha said. “We strongly condemn this ongoing violence. And we want immediate action against the culprits, who have been carrying on these criminal acts. We are shocked by the lack of coherent action against such violence and protect members of this noble fraternity.”