Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Sick do not come with Naxal labels'

Soumittra S Bose, TNN, Apr 29, 2010, 06.53am IST

NAGPUR: Caught in the crossfire in conflict areas where Naxals operate are a bunch of medical practitioners who are torn between their ethos and security issues. Be it Dr Binayak Sen's incarceration or the recent early morning raid at the resident of a former superintendent of Eastern coalfield limited's main hospital at Asansol, doctors too have started coming under the scanner for their alleged Maoist links. Recently, a doctor attached to a public health centre at Kasansur in Gadchiroli too was questioned for ferrying an alleged Maoist to the city hospital from remote areas.

The doctor was grilled extensively by the cops. The Gadchiroli police had recently brought several health department workers under scanner after a sizeable consignment of government hospital medicines were seized during an encounter with the Maoists at Tadgaon in Bhamragarh. The security agencies believe that some of the medical practitioners and their machineries may be treating the outlaws. They now view these medical workers with suspicion. The police in West Bengal recently carried out a crackdown on quacks too on the grounds that they are clandestinely supporting the Maoists.

But the doctors TOI spoke to believe that ethics come first in their profession. International award winning social activist Dr Prakash Amte, whose Lok Biradari project at Bhamragarh is at the heart of Naxal stronghold, said that patients do not come with labels stuck on their forehead. “The government feels that the doctors are treating members of who approaches us. Our approach is to treat every human being equally. There is an element of fear but the Naxals do not trouble the doctors. I never heard of any public heath officer being harassed. In war, medical teams are always spared,” said Bang, adding that his hospital did not facilities to treat bullet injuries. Gadchiroli also has an MLA who was attached to the district hospital for long.

MLA Dr Namdeo Usendi too said responsibility that comes with the profession cannot be ignored. “Can you show me any rule book where a doctor is debarred from treating any particular category of patients? Ignoring someone’s illness is tantamount to violation of human rights,” said Dr Usendi. The first-time MLA said in case of suspect patients, the incident should be treated as a medico-legal case. “Let the police then conduct an enquiry. When patients come with general ailments, we provide them medicines irrespective of the background that he or she may have come from,” said Usendi. banned organizations. But how can a doctor discriminate against anyone seeking treatment on the basis of his background. We have to treat him,” said Amte who added that professionals in conflict areas always have to work under threat. Social activist Dr Abhay Bang, who runs a 30-bed hospital as a part of his mission ‘Search’ in Gadchiroli, said that he has never felt the heat of the skirmishes between Maoist and security forces. “Ethically we have to extend medical assistance to anyone who approaches us. Our approach is to treat every human being equally. There is an element of fear but the Naxals do not trouble the doctors. I never heard of any public heath officer being harassed. In war, medical teams are always spared,” said Bang, adding that his hospital did not facilities to treat bullet injuries. Gadchiroli also has an MLA who was attached to the district hospital for long. MLA Dr Namdeo Usendi too said responsibility that comes with the profession cannot be ignored. “Can you show me any rule book where a doctor is debarred from treating any particular category of patients? Ignoring someone’s illness is tantamount to violation of human rights,” said Dr Usendi. The first-time MLA said in case of suspect patients, the incident should be treated as a medico-legal case. “Let the police then conduct an enquiry. When patients come with general ailments, we provide them medicines irrespective of the background that he or she may have come from,” said Usendi.

1 comment:

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