THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The assault on a woman doctor at Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College has made doctors preparing for a career in the medical profession worried. A bystander kicked the woman doctor on her lower abdomen in front of an ICU in the middle of the night on November 23. The CCTV visuals showed that she was surrounded by a group of bystanders. She survived the attack and is recuperating. But the incident has left her shattered. “I am reconsidering my decision to become a neurosurgeon and even the career of a doctor,” she told Sulphi N, IMA state president, when he visited her in the hospital.
The Kerala Medical Post Graduate Association has taken up her cause and demanded justice. They are worried that such attacks would happen again and there would be a new victim. “It is unnerving that such attacks happen in medical colleges which are supposed to be a secure location. What will happen to us if we go to peripheral hospitals for practice,” said Dr Ruwise E A, Thiruvananthapuram unit president of Kerala Medical Post Graduate Association.
He came to know from police officers that an arrest was unlikely on Friday and the accused was trying to secure bail. “The government should have arrested the culprit immediately and sent a message to the public that such attacks are not tolerated,” said Dr Ruwise.
KMPGA plans to strengthen the strike if there is no arrest till Sunday. The doctors association has extended support to the protest by residents. “We cannot leave the students alone on this issue. It was an assault on a woman who was doing her duty. If it was a senior doctor who received such a kick on the lower abdomen he or she would not have survived the attack,” said Dr Nirmal Bhaskar, state president of Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association (KGMCTA).
The doctors share their angst as there was not enough support from government and society even when the attacks keep repeating. They did not take the Facebook post by Health Minister Veena George condemning the attack seriously.
There are health experts who think that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to prevent such attacks. It involves reducing the crowd by strengthening peripheral hospitals, increasing staff and providing better security.
“The government health system has become an easy target nowadays. Such attacks do not happen in private hospitals where bystanders pay the remaining hospital bills without uttering a word of protest even after the patient could not be rescued,” said Dr Althaf A, secretary of IMA, Thiruvananthapuram branch. He pointed out that there are no trained administrative cadres to manage a 4,000-bed MCH. All of this is managed by a superintendent who is also a professor with teaching responsibilities.