To create a terrorist Catch them young                                                                                  Friday, July 17, 2015 

The massive protest against the NCERT textbook passages and cartoons which depict private doctors in extremely poor light was met with silence by normally vocal me. I was of the view that action should be taken quietly by sending legal notices and followup action rather than start a public debate and invite a barrage of negative comments from society primed and trained well to attack doctors.

I however went through a article at…/imas-promotion-of-healthcare-privatiza…/ by one Aditya Nigam which needed response in proper and befitting manner.

First I must congratulate the writer on his impressive style of writing. However I must say it sounds more like propaganda of the Third Reich where Jews were blamed for all societies ills and normal rational people fell for it or were browbeaten and bullied into toeing the popular line. Whatever the writers views or experiences may be when we publish them in newspapers they are regarded as views. However when you put them in students textbook who is yet to learn right and wrong you imprint these in his mind so that when he grows up and damages a hospital or assaults a doctor on duty he does it with a misplaced sense of justice.

Any terrorist manual will have the first chapter on recruitment of suicide bombers, jihadis and fidayeen starting with the caption "Catch them young". When you teach a child that killing all non muslims is road to salvation, he believes it and when he grows up he practices it with a sense of righteousness. What we teach our children has to be very carefully filtered and requires more aggressive censorship than a film, news report or magazine article.

A National Sample Survey organization report recently placed 75 % of healthcare of the nation in hands of private clinics and hospitals. Our successive Governments make no attempt to promote or develop these establishments. Infact clinical Establishment Act has now been brought to close down these establishments.

Right to life guaranteed under our constitution has been expanded to mean right to healthy life by honourable supreme court through various judgments. Paschim Bengal Khet Mazdoor Samiti Judgment has categorically mentioned that lack of funds is no excuse for the state not providing adequate healthcare to its subjects. However our Government spends 1.3 % of its annual budget on healthcare placing it among the last five countries in the world for which data is available. This too was slashed recently as part of austerity measures. With no money to spend on healthcare there are no Government jobs, No infrastructure, dearth of supplies and blame for all of which is conveniently placed at the door of private healthcare providers by the author.

If a liver transplantation in private sector costs 30 lacs whose fault is it. There are countries in the world which provide all transplantations free of cost to their citizens.It costs 1460000 to damage the liver so as to require transplantation by drinking alcohol worth Rs 200 per day for 20 years not including the interest the amount could have earned. In 2012 a study conducted by AIIMS Department of hospital administration pegged cost of a laproscopic surgery done in AIIMS at 50000. This is when bang for buck is calculated. Whether the money is spent from the exchequer funded AIIMS budget or out of pocket this was the figure published. At that time a normal sized nursing home including ours was doing these surgeries on a package rate of 30000. You cannot compare cost of 2 different chemotherapeutic agents, something like methotrexate, 5 FU or cyclophosphamide may cost 600 times less than newer anticancer drugs but how is the treating doctor responsible for this cost differential.

I agree to some extent with him that we need to oppose corporatization of healthcare where it is run as a business. However when one looks at ground reality the small mom dad nursing homes and clinics are slowly but surely losing ground to these corporates with their glitzy buildings and petite reception staff. Our Fortis and Max hospitals today look like any general hospital with people flocking in hordes to them even though cheaper healthcare facilities exist in their neighbourhood.

There is also the issue of psychological damage which a private doctor's child would suffer when he has to write answers to question about private doctors corresponding to his textbook. The ridicule and bullying this must have caused to such children by their friends and class fellows is as yet not looked into. This alone is sufficient ground to sue the writer, NCERT and Union of India for damages caused.
Dr Neeraj Nagpal
Convenor, Medicos Legal Action Group
Ex President IMA Chandigarh
09316517176 e mail; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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