‘Doctors are easy targets’: IMA Kerala president reacts to Dr Vandana’s murder

Vandana Das, a house surgeon at the Kottarakkara Taluk Hospital, was stabbed to death by Sandeep, who had been brought to the hospital by the police.
Junior doctors on strike
Junior doctors on strike
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The Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Kerala has called for a 24-hour, state-wide strike between Wednesday and Thursday, May 10 and 11, protesting the murder of a young doctor at the Taluk Hospital in Kollam district’s Kottarakkara on Wednesday morning. Doctors across the state have joined the protest against the brutal attack and murder of house surgeon Vandana Das (22) by a man called Sandeep (42) who was brought to the hospital for treatment by the police. The IMA has excluded casualty duty from the strike for now.

“It is very depressing — a young female doctor was brutally murdered in the presence of the police. The culprit had kicked her down and stabbed her five to six times. This [attacks against doctors and health workers] has been happening for quite some time. We had gone on a strike two months ago against a similar attack. The government always talks about bringing stronger laws and punishing the culprits, but nothing has transpired so far. And now there is murder — this is the first time that a doctor on duty has been killed in Kerala,” Dr Sulphi Noohu, president of the IMA, told TNM.

Two months ago, Dr PK Ashokan of Fathima Hospital in Kozhikode was attacked by the relatives of a woman whose newborn baby had died, alleging lapses in treatment. Dr Sulphi had at the time predicted that a health worker would soon be killed, given how attacks in hospitals continued to happen. Doctors can not give proper treatment when their own lives are in danger, he had written in a Facebook post at the time.

“Every time there was an attack before this, the doctor or health worker had escaped by a very narrow margin. But now a young doctor has been killed. I am afraid that it will happen again. It can only be prevented by strong rules and the implementation of it. There should also be strong protests, comments, and reactions from the public and leaders,” Dr Sulphi said.

He believes that the attacks keep happening because doctors are an easy target. “We can claim that the culprit in this case is a drug addict and he was under the influence when he attacked. But doctors become an easy target because they know doctors will not attack back. There will also be no punishment, no stringent actions against them,” Dr Sulphi added.

There is not enough protection for doctors or health workers, he said. “There has to be a special protection zone, laws in which investigations over such attacks are completed within a month, and the culprits punished within a year. There should also be action against the police,” he further stated.

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