A controversy has erupted in Rajasthan after patients registering at the renowned Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College and all hospitals attached to it were asked to reveal their religion and caste details in the new form. The authorities, however, claim this move is meant to create a database of population-specific diseases.
#Breaking | Hindu-Muslim in Hospital! List religion for admission in hospital. Here’s a shocker from SMS Hospital in Jaipur, Rajasthan. TIMES NOW’s Arvind Singh speaks to patients for the reality check on ground. pic.twitter.com/kCvNgEvNDU
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) July 26, 2019
Brazening out the rampant religious profiling done by the hospital, SMS hospital superintendent D S Meena said, “The information derived from the registration records will help us better understand about the causes of certain diseases prevalent in the beef-eating population. Similarly, religious profiling will abreast us of diseases common among the vegetarian population. Like Hindus are more prone to penile carcinoma while among Muslims arthritis is common.” He further added that such information will be useful in research work and medical studies.
However, the principal of the SMS Medical college, Sudhir Bhandari, claimed the decision to elicit patients’ religious and caste details was “just protocols.” He added it was as trivial as asking a patient’s gender.
Bhandari issued an order on July 12 asking associated hospitals to follow the system of filling a pre-OPD form, in which patients have to mention all their details, including religion. According to the officials, other government healthcare institutions such as JK Lon Hospital and the Insitute of Respiratory Diseases will soon be following the process of adopting the new system.
Besides religious details, other information that is being sought includes Aadhar details, contact details, address, and Bhamashah card number. The Bhamashah Yojana is an initiative by the government to transfer financial and non-financial benefits directly to women.
Healthcare activists have raised a strong objection to the religious categorisation of the patients. One activist, Brij Mohan Sharma said, “Such details were never sought before. Government is attempting to drag religion into the healthcare sector. This is unwarranted and the government should remove the religion column from the forms.”
This religious profiling of patients was in the news last year as well. The Sawai Man Singh hospital had then launched an app for OPD patients to register themselves online and avoid the hassle of waiting interminably in long queues. However, along with usual details, the mobile app also asked the patients to disclose their religious and caste details. The hospital administration had then defended themselves claiming such categorisation offers them deep insights about the spread of specific diseases in different religions and the information obtained from such an exercise can be used for arresting a quick disease spread among members of a particular religion.