The Democratic Doctors’ Association, officially inaugurated in November 2018, began as a collective to address several issues within the healthcare realm.

This TN doctors collective hopes to keep politics out of medical system in state Image for representation
news Human Interest Friday, February 01, 2019 - 07:47

“Why is there so much distrust in medical care today? There has been a heavy influence of outsiders and non-medicos in the industry who are making several decisions on how healthcare functions. This is impacting doctors and patients who come to us, too,” says Dr Mari Raj, General Secretary of the newly-formed Democratic Doctors’ Association in Tamil Nadu. “We want to change this and bring about effective and meaningful ways how health care functions; and hence this collective effort of several doctors,” he adds.

What began as the efforts of a few doctors in November 2018 has now catapulted into a statewide collective of several doctors who want to bring significant changes to the existing medical system in the state. “This collective will not only focus on highlighting the treatment and other work doctors do on a surface level but aims to bring a better understanding to all issues we as doctors face on a day-to-day basis,” says Dr Mari.

The Association had its first “pre-meeting” in November 2018 in Madurai to address it would function.

When politics tampers with medicine

NEET examinations that place several students from rural and underprivileged backgrounds at a disadvantage, violence against doctors by family members of patients and caste-based discrimination within medical institutes, among other circumstances, Dr Mari says, inspired such a collective.

Politics, he says, comes in the way of such medical situations.

He cites NEET as an example. “Students from underprivileged backgrounds, who are preparing for NEET, do not have access to the same preparatory tools and coaching centers which others may be able to utilise,” Dr Mari elucidates.

Similar problems exist in the Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), says Dr Raj Vardhanan, a surgical oncologist who acts an advisor to the DDA. “While the government claims that the CEA will allow the treatment cost to be better regulated and monitored so that all people have better access to healthcare, some private hospitals allege that the government is attempting to infiltrate the healthcare system and that such an act would not benefit the medical personnel,” he notes.

He points out that most doctors don't understand the political implications of introducing such laws and acts. “We need someone to understand how a hospital functions and make such important decisions; someone who is well informed of both healthcare infrastructure as well as political situations,” says Dr Raj.

Another issue it aims to take up is that of the students from Tamil Nadu who have died under suspicious circumstances while studying in a medical college outside of the state.

In January 2018, a 24-year-old medical student from Tirupur, Sharath Prabhu was found dead under mysterious circumstances in the bathroom of a privatre accommodation in Delhi, where he was doing his postgraduation. He was allegedly found with a syringe next to him.

 "There have been a few other similar instances that have not received enough attention and were not investigated thoroughly. We hope to look into such issues," says Dr Mari.

The availability of unauthorised native medications in the market is another nuisance that is contributing to a significant number of problems, he says. "Sometimes, these “medications” are extremely harmful and can cause kidney problems within a matter of days or weeks. Promotion of such unauthorised medications need to stop and make people aware of what medicines they are taking,” adds Dr Raj.

The association also plans to set up a team at every district in the state. As per the general secretary, these district-level supervising teams will also be called upon to investigate any major issues in the districts.

“These days, there are many instances of violence against doctors by the family members of patients. In such a case, our district-level team will immediately reach the spot to understand the truth of the events,” explains Dr Mari.

Making medical community politically sensitive

Dr Raj also states that the association will aim to increase the political acumen of the medical community as a whole.

“Several doctors lack political knowledge. They are aware of medical ethics but do not have the time to read news and stay away from politics. As a result, they don’t understand the influences of politics in the healthcare system. This is a gap that we hope to fill, as there needs to be more social awareness,” adds the surgical oncologist.

 

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.