Tag Archives: Election

Death and Disability by Overwork:  An Indian Diagnosis 

Death and Disability by Overwork:
An Indian Diagnosis
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“We are helpless, our life has no worth in the eyes of authority “ said the school teacher.

He had recovered from unconsciousness just a few hours ago, his brain had developed huge clots due to thickening of blood, because he was dehydrated overworking. Due to back pressure generated in the blocked veins, there was bleeding in his brain.

“I was out on the election duty, and did not get time to eat or have water. I returned late night and felt nauseated because of the bus travel, so just had a little rice and slept off. The next morning I had terrible headache. Just after the breakfast the headache worsened and I started vomiting. As our leaves were canceled, it was compulsory to go to work. So in spite of the headache I went for a bath, then I don’t remember, till I woke up in the hospital”.

His wife continued: “I heard a big noise in the bathroom and rushed there, found him lying in a pool of blood, convulsing”. She paused to wipe tears, still unable to overcome the horror of that memory, then resumed: “I called our neighbors, one of them took us to the rural hospital in his tractor. They did a CT scan and started treatment “.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“But you are a school teacher, why were you doing an election duty?” I asked him.

“It is compulsory for all govt staff. We must comply or we won’t get our salaries or promotions.” He replied.

This wasn’t new. Doctors often attend many a police, labourers, and other “government service“ personnel serving either the state of central government (under different political parties), who drop either sick, unconscious or dead while overworking. The common factor is they are almost all low level desperate employees who cannot say ‘No’ to the forced additional work thrust unto them. I have never seen a senior officer or a politician coming to the hospital due to physical overwork. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

To add to the inequality, it is the senior officials / politicos, ministers who can avail of deluxe / higher budget private medical facilities including overseas medicare, whereas the actual ones who get sick shedding blood and sweat in the field are left at the mercy of scanty healthcare facility in government hospitals or low budget schemes at private hospitals. Much like the red light cars ferrying ministers getting preferences over even the ambulances for the poor.

Recently a police officer was brought by his colleagues, he had developed high blood pressure due to an extended duty. A blood vessel in his brain had ruptured, causing huge bleeding. With a great effort he recovered from the coma in few days, but his speech is now forever gone, and he is bedridden due to paralysis on one side. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Doctors working in different state / central hospitals too are not an exception. Many tasks / schemes / targets are mindlessly shoved into their routine, presuming that if someone is a government servant, he/ she is a slave to the whims of authorities who can order anything. Besides being taken for granted about 24/7 availability, besides completely ignoring the human right recommendations about working hours, the threatening, demeaning and pressurising humiliation continues almost in every field, where the lower you rank, the worst your slavery.

In a country with excess population, why should there arise a need for one person being burdened with the work of two or three? Why should a school teacher perform an election duty, population stats/ census duty, etc? Why should a police employee work beyond his / her physical capacity? Why cannot the governments hire more people in a country teeming with unemployed youths agitating about almost everything everywhere?© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

If someone wants to work extra for patriotic or financial reasons, they should be able to. But when one is forced to work beyond capacity and legitimate duty, we are encouraging not only health risks, but creating chances of nothing being done correctly. Stress is a major killer via diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and depression/ suicides, and while we encourage Yoga for stress relief, we must also reduce overloading one with the duties of three.

“I sympathise with your condition, you should recover well, but you must avoid such overworking now. Also never fast. Drink plenty of water. I feel bad about your extra duties.” I told him.

He smiled in embarrassment, and said “I feel ashamed that while I teach my students to stand against injustice and inequality, to courageously fight to set right what is wrong, I am myself a coward who cannot do so, for without this job I will not be able to survive. I want to be a good teacher, I love teaching and my students love me very much, but inside, I feel I am lying to them when I accept this humiliation by those who I work for. Believe me, doctor, that even when I got unconscious, no one among those who ordered me extra work cared whether I woke up or not”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

He was telling the desperate story of many, and I found myself unable to answer once more: that if we have so many educated people who have time to quote history and protest against various political parties or events, if we have so many rich leaders who openly award crores for killing someone (hello, Milords of Indian Justice!), why cannot we distribute duties well and let a school teacher happily just teach instead of dying forcibly doing something else?

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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Dedicated to all teachers.

Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) Elections: An Opinion

Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC) Elections: An Opinion
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I can shut up. In that case please do not read this post.
Or I can open up my heart.

At the outset, I am not writing this for any panel.
Many panels have been formed. While the IMA panel has the “apolitical” background so essential for the medical fraternity, it has in the past given jitters to medical practitioners by making controversial statements to the media against its own members. It has the benefit of a history of impartial work for allopaths, but needs to reaffirm a stronger face and stand in favour of the practitioners rather than working for limelight.

While apolitical is the best choice, it also lacks the essential strength to garner the support of the lawmakers (read political will), hence the panels associated with political outfits have an advantage. But the same rule applies in the negative: that the chosen candidates from such panels will have a tough time standing against their own party should it try and implement some idiotic populist rules / laws. Only those candidates who have respect and backing of the strongmen in their supporting party will make a difference.

In a society with predominant negative opinion of the medical profession, and amidst media largely interested in finding trivial faults of the medical practitioners and blowing up tiny issues, the MMC members must stop making statements that tarnish the image of this troubled profession, and pretending “holier than thou” to others.
A unified effort to come out strongly to protect the allopaths from the assault of various political / social / federal forces which want to enslave this profession to be able to use it as a tool to impress the masses to hide their own inefficiency, by making populist statements and laws has become the need of the hour. Any candidate who stands for this is the right candidate we need in MMC.

While credit point system is an ultramodern and justified idea, its marriage to a slow and inadequate system / execution created the necessity to attend unnecessary CMEs, waste precious holidays and increase (hidden) dependence on the pharma sector for travel, food and stay. In the era of hi speed internet and satellite meetings, the very idea of physical presence away from the practicing hospital or home is ridiculous. This idea should have been implemented only when the MMC acquired ability to practically provide online relevant CMEs for every specialty. The whole process of thousands of doctors traveling out for conferences for which the patient ultimately pays does not really achieve the expected “learning” benefit. Think of the millions of doctor-hours and rupees wasted.

The general issues must be treated as primary points upon which each candidate must clarify his / her stand without ambiguity and party policy:
*Everyone (hospitals, quacks, alternative pathies and TDH) being allowed to advertise except the registered and qualified allopath,
*The non-accountability of medical ethics / practices at some hospitals, the exploitation and harassment of qualified doctors by some hospitals,
*The fake clinical trials, and PG diplomas/ degrees
*The open defamation or suspension-without-enquiry of any allopath against whom complaint is lodged by revengeful patients / relatives / politicos
*Fighting the unfair draconian clauses in the regulations like PCPNDT at all levels
*Provision of free legal backing to registered candidates
and filing defamation suits against false complainants against medical professionals
*Fighting for the autonomy of the National Medical Commission and its governance by Medical specialists and Judges only, without political interference / controls.

The contesting candidates must also comment about the specialty specific issues like those of Pathologists, Radiologists, OBGYN, Intensivists etc.
Human rights regulations about working hours of doctors including residents, PGs should be defined and implemented by the MMC, this alone can encourage the govt to fill up empty posts at medical colleges and hospitals, and to stop overuse of existing staff.

Renewal of Medical teachers’ and Medical Officers’ registrations should be automatic: teaching should get credit points, and so should working in rural areas.
My appeal will be to vote for individuals rather than panels. We must choose candidates who have done significant constructive work for the fraternity. Many of my dear friends are contesting this election from different panels, and I know candidates from every panel who have spent years adding to the grace of our profession, fighting for its dignity.

The last thing medical professionals can afford at this moment is a fraternity divided further. Let the differences among the panels NOT be the cause of differences within the fraternity.

Dr. Pradeep Benjarge is the only one name I will mention in this post, because he is an independent candidate, we have all witnessed his relentless struggle over a decade to fight injustice against medical professionals and hospitals. I have reserved one vote for him.

There are some candidates who have worked hard over past many years to safeguard the interest and image of medical profession. Their work will of course reward them. There are some newcomers who want to change the existing uncertainty and insecurity among the allopaths. My sincere best wishes to them too.

One request: whichever panel they contest from, the candidates must work together for the fraternity rather than carrying the “panel title” to the MMC. We need strong fighters who will unite like soldiers of different religions, to protect the nobility of their profession. Doctors can be excellent politicians (and devastating often), but this ground is not for the show of might.

MMC should be a round table of scientific minded intellectuals with strong integrity.

My best wishes to every candidate! May the best men and women win to the “MMC Panel”.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
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