Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Should doctors strike work?

Strike is a legitimate form of collective protest in a democracy. At the same time, the guiding principle of medicine is the alleviation of suffering. Thus the issue of whether doctors should ever strike work is contentious. Some have preached from an ivory tower and advocated against this form of protest for doctors. Opinions have been expressed that the suffering caused by a strike of doctors violates the ‘raison d’etre’ of the medical profession.

I was appalled by the sight of people being forced to go to private medical institutions when the government hospitals closed doors for all- the rich, the poor, the needy and the dying! The reality of this hit me quite hard when i heard yesterday that a friends' dad died last week because he was denied care at the Govt. Medical College Hospital and the doctors in the private hospital, where he was taken, couldn't understand what was wrong with him.

I've always believed that Altruism is the basis for practising medicine. The care and welfare of patients are the primary considerations of the medical profession. Seldom do you see a doctor who prioritises his interests before those of his patients. If patient care is the issue, he will disregard any amount of inconvenience caused to his self and go to any lengths to give his best efforts. This altruistic instinct should be innate, it is not thrust upon the medical student during their curriculum. That is one reason why it is among the most respected professions in the world. Even now with the rise in number of medical colleges and seats being sold, we have a majority of students taking up medicine courses because of their love for helping people.

Of course one cannot deny that patient care suffers during a strike by doctors. The scale of harm caused depends upon the role played by doctors in that particular health set- up, the type of cases under treatment, and, of course, the duration of the strike. Now what is it that drives an otherwise selfless, self- effacing doctor to strike work? Are the values and commitments so shallow that they are discarded the moment a question of personal gains looms up? What goes on in the psyche of the person who is driven to stop the very work and values that he cherishes? How is it that a person commended for his service towards others by elders and the authorities is, at a given point of time, suddenly accused of selfishness and criminal negligence?

The issues which precipitate a doctors’ strike are generally forgotten in the vociferous reactions and threats of the authorities. The lay public is aghast at the very idea of a strike. The general feeling is that a member of this noble profession should never indulge in any such activity. This very cross of ‘noble profession’ has been the bane of the healers over the past millennia. The moment a person has been elevated to a demi- god status by the people, he loses all his rights and aspirations towards a life of reasonable contentment and comfort. There are other essential services which, when stopped, bring society to a grinding halt. But striking doctors presents a whole new scenario, one which the govt. should handle with care.

I believe the reason why the doctors struck wordk is a legitimate one and should have been addressed long before the doctors resorted to the worst-Strike. The pay scale for a doctor is Rs 8000-275-13500 which comes to about 17,000 with all the allowances(If the govt doesn't hold them back). This is same as the starting salary for any professional degree holder. That's the disparity of the pay structure that exists in our nation. I feel that for a person who's putting in about 5-6 years in studies and then joining service to humans, should be paid more considering the current consumerist way of living. The govt always makes PROMISES and they should have considered the striking doctors with a bit more sensibility rather than treating them like any other govt. employee. For the govt they may be just another section of employees striking for their demands, but to the scores of people they save each day, they are next to GOD.

I feel doctors should also come to the striking lines only after careful consideration of what all harm they would cause to the world they serve!


Hari said...

Preparing for CAT has CERTAINLY boosted your aptitude in proving a well-meaning point!! Not a notch less than what I expected of you. Fantastic post, to say the least!

To be frank, I've never bothered to take a stand on the doctor's striking issue. But, your post awoke the muse in me. I concur. You've amplified the collective pangs of the scores of medical students, who almost spend a tenth of their lives (in most cases, even more) and lakhs of rupees, learning the noblest of all professions. And what do they get?? Just a measly 13k. Even a measly call center job that doesn't even need a graduate degree would pay 15k!! Something needs to be done about this!

Good research! And, great work!! Hope this post will open the eyes of that pack of greedy A**es that rule us!!

Spartan said...

nice post....but there arose some doubts in me.......every profession has its own importance.....if doctors play with lives,teachers play with careers of his/her students,a minister with problems of people all over his constituency.....and the opposition plays finding the faults of the every individual is important.......from a wider angle......if these people can go on a strike.....y not doctors????the point is every individual must understand his/her responsibility.....and act accordingly.....but wat if his demands are not met.....he is left with no other option than to make the employers aware of the problem....he may ve to follow different ways to do this......isnt a strike the easiest and fastest......????Moral concerns do case of doctors....they need to have that....but arent they too humans......what else can they do.....???should they punish themselves just for studyin or rather toilin 4 5-6 yrs for the degree and a few more for practisin......i think the govt should act wise by not lettin the ones playin with lives go on strike......once more