On April 15, Dr Aqsa Shaikh, a self-proclaimed queer activist, teacher of community medicine at Jamia Hamdard and nodal officer of a COVID vaccination centre, sparked a controversy by saying that the medical curriculum in India teaches “too much Anatomy and Biochemistry”. Dr Aqsa also claimed heterosexual doctors should not teach about queer lives. Furthermore, she said, “Instagram teaches more about sexual and gender Minorities than textbooks.” Her statement attracted strong criticism on social media.
‘We are Anatomy and Biochemistry’
In a series of tweets, Dr Aqsa mentioned the points she had raised during a panel discussion on making Medical Curriculum queer affirmative at AIIMS. She said the fraternity should stop ‘medicalising queer identities’. Furthermore, she claimed that the Indian medicine curriculum is teaching ‘too much of Anatomy and Biochemistry’. According to her, 5.5 years were not enough to learn about health.
4. Medical Science needs change – make it Bachelor of Health. Teach inter disciplinary with humanities— Dr. Aqsa Shaikh (@doctorsaheba) April 15, 2022
5. Time to reverse Miller’s Pyramid, Empathy should be the base, not Cognitive domain
6. Empathy can be taught
7. CBME curriculum is flawed
8. Doctors should be political
‘Teach humanities with medicine’
Dr Aqsa demanded that Medical Science should be turned into a Bachelor of Health and the students should be taught subjects of humanities with medicines. She said it is “time to reverse Miller’s Pyramid, Empathy should be the base, not Cognitive domain.” She claimed the CBME (Competency Based Medical Education) curriculum is flawed and suggested that doctors should be political.
‘Instagram teaches more compared to textbooks’
Interestingly, she added that Heterosexual people should not teach about queer lives and demanded more ‘marginalised communities’ should be brought in as teaching staff. According to Dr Aqsa, the current Transgender Act has many anti-queer laws, and it needs amendments. The education about queer should begin at the primary level and not at medical school. One of the most controversial statements she made in her tweets was that Instagram taught more about sexual and gender minorities compared to the textbooks.
14. Trans Act needs amendments. Many laws are anti queer— Dr. Aqsa Shaikh (@doctorsaheba) April 15, 2022
15. Medical school is too late, start at primary education
16. Instagram teaches more about sexual and gender Minorities than textbooks
Her statement has attracted sharp criticism, especially from the Medical community on Twitter. Dr Lira questioned why such discussions were even allowed by AIIMS. She said, “From where is this irrational thinking seeping into #medical system? Why is AIIMS even allowing this? Medicine is pure Science unadulterated by Identity politics, religion and superstitions. One can practice medicine with basic human decency without needless affirmation.”
From where is this irrational thinking seeping into #medical system? Why is #AIIMS even allowing this?— Dr Lira (@DrSangtam) April 19, 2022
Medicine is pure #Science unadulterated by #Identity politics , religion and superstitions.
One can practice medicine with basic human decency without needless affirmation. https://t.co/jMf7Vhcwt4
Dr Pranay said, “First, it made me laugh. Then I realised she was serious. Not just a tweet, but this was rather a panel discussion at AIIMS. I’m worried now. Ridiculous is too small a term for this.”
First it made me laugh.— Dr Pranay (@_sleepercell) April 19, 2022
Then I realised she’s serious.
Not just a tweet but this was rather a panel discussion.
I’m worried now.
Ridiculous is too small a term for this. https://t.co/43tCndYU0k
Dr Apporva Verma said, “Too much anatomy? Seriously? While I get 1st point, I’d like to know this person’s qualification to have uttered such statement as the 2nd point.”
Too much of anatomy? Seriously? While I get 1st point, I’d like to know this person’s qualification to have uttered such Statement as the 2nd point. https://t.co/HYQJVar2WR— Dr. Apoorva Verma (@DrApoorvaVerma) April 19, 2022
Speaking to OpIndia, Dr Haryax Pathak said, “While the issue in the hand of LGBTQ rights and awareness is a genuine one, there has to be a systematic approach towards it. It starts by educating people. The biology behind it. The history behind it. That means more Anatomy, more Biochemistry – not less. Training empathy is required, but it is a slow process. I’m against the claim that doctors must be political. I can have political preferences as an individual – but they don’t reflect in my professional life. Doctors don’t differentiate or discriminate on a political basis.”
He further added, “Claims that Instagram teaches more than medical school are way harmful. There has to be a professional approach to medical education. Ironical that slurs of WhatsApp University are passed around while promoting Instagram education.” He agreed there was a need for some legal amendments as transgenders are humans too, and they have rights equal to everybody else.