The Bengal Health Crisis has escalated to immense proportions. With Doctors across the state submitting their resignations, Mamata Banerjee has a severe crisis on her hands. However, instead of adopting a conciliatory approach, she chose to threaten the medical fraternity and in the process, derailed the ongoing discussions.
Under such circumstances, Dr Dev Desai, who is currently interning at AIIMS, Delhi, has penned an Open Letter to the West Bengal Chief Minister. The letter has been produced in full below:
I sincerely hope that this letter finds you in the ‘best of your health’, or at the least in a condition better than that of the medicos in the state of West Bengal. What we have witnessed over the past few days leaves me short of words to express the deep state of anguish, insecurity and frustration being experienced by members of the medical fraternity right from the junior-most interns to the senior most professors.
You have showered the protesting doctors with a broad range of adjectives, ranging from ‘outsiders’ to ‘agents of opposition parties’. Madam, have you cared to even understand, what are the doctors all over India and not just Bengal protesting for? Are they protesting demanding pay hikes? Are they protesting for curtailing their work-hours or to get more holidays? No madam! The simple demand of the agitating doctors is nothing beyond a dignified and secure work-place, where they can work freely, without fear of having to suffer fractured skulls or much worse. But it seems, blinded by your paranoia at the prospect of losing public support, as evidenced by the results of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, you continue to imagine enemies out of thin air- first it was youth chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and now it is the medico fraternity.
To give you some background madam, this fraternity comprises of students who are near the top of their classes during their school years, slog hard to clear the MBBS entrance exam, in which lakhs compete for a few thousand MBBS seats; slog harder to get through the grueling MBBS curriculum and then put in anything ranging from 12 to 36 hours at a stretch, forgetting food, water and sleep, working as interns or junior residents; in a work environment where there are innumerable patients and scarcity of the basic most infrastructure and equipment. Yet the doctors continue to strive day in and day out to give their best and make a difference in the lives of their patients.
Yet, in return, what have they been getting, of late in your state? An elderly gentleman named Mohammad Shahid passed away after being brought to the NRS Medical College, and a few hours later, a 200 strong mob barged into the hospital and started attacking the staff on duty. In the scuffle, Dr Paribaha Mukhopadhyaya, an intern was hit on his head and suffered a depressed skull fracture.
Leave alone express solidarity with the victim of mob violence or ensuring justice by booking the mob who attacked the doctors, all you have done is paint doctors in poor light on one hand, while goons with the obvious support of the ruling regime continue to terrorise and attack the protesting doctors on the other.
All limits were crossed when you alleged, that the doctors were being motivated by a rival political party not to provide services to members of a particular community. In fact, the mere allegation that doctors are capable of discriminating between patients based on their caste, creed or religion has hurt many in the fraternity as much, if not more, than the pain of the physical injuries suffered.
Moreover, you have not even bothered to pay a visit to the recuperating intern Dr Paribaho. We doctors, a numerically small and politically orphaned community, now feel more insecure than ever, of being made scapegoats at the altar of appeasement politics. Thus, the entire medical community is standing shoulder to shoulder with our brethren in West Bengal and demanding that you accept all the demands of the agitating doctors immediately and restore law, order and normalcy in the state.
To make our voice heard to the seemingly deaf CM, Health Minister and Home Minister of West Bengal, doctors across India had ceased non-emergency services yesterday, and all the blame for the inconvenience caused to the patients, who come from far and wide, lies fair and square at your doorstep; because it is your unyielding and stubborn attitude, which forced us to take this measure. I don’t know what will make you see the light and come to reason, if not only us poor doctors, even the Hon. Governor of West Bengal could not get through to you.
Didi, when you made a fellow medico and President of Indian Medical Association, Dr Santanu Sen, a Rajya Sabha MP from the AITC (All India Trinamool Congress), much of the medical fraternity had rejoiced, that it will have a fellow medico to raise its concerns in the Parliament. But sadly, both Dr Santanu and you, have failed the medico community. While we doctors have upheld the Hippocratic Oath in the most trying of circumstances, sadly, it is evident that you madam, have failed to adhere to the spirit of the allegiance you had sworn to the Constitution of India- ‘I will do right to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.’
Hope you open your eyes to the plight of the doctors and common citizens of West Bengal madam. Get well soon.
Dr Dev Desai,
A doctor concerned for the well-being of humanity, his own colleagues and himself