A senior doctor from the Narsipatnam Area Hospital in Andhra Pradesh was suspended by the state government on Wednesday after a video, where he had alleged a shortage of protective gear for medical workers, went viral. However, the suspension has become a completely political issue with the YSRCP alleging that the doctor was 'in cahoots' with the TDP to create tension, while the TDP, in turn, has claimed that the doctor was the only one speaking the 'truth'.
In the video, Dr Sudhakar Rao, an anaesthetist with 20 years of experience, spoke about how doctors were asked to use one N-95 mask for 15 days. "We will die. Why won't there be positive cases (among medical staff)? They are not giving minimum importance to the medical department," he said.
"There are no masks and no facilities. This is an area hospital. There are people who come from tribal areas here. There is not one MLA or Minister who has visited and cares for the health of people here," he added.
In the video, Dr Sudhakar also praises Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and says that he has been giving first preference to doctors in the neighbouring state.
"Meanwhile, here, a policeman is asking us to get lost. There is no respect for doctors. I have spoken about my pain in the operation theatre in a video. I will forward it to everyone. It should reach the Chief Minister," he says in the video.
He also alleged that the hospital's district coordinator was not available during the time of crisis and was unresponsive when contacted over the phone.
Watch the video below.
A Must see Video‚ÄĒ Telugu360 (@Telugu360) April 6, 2020
Dr. Sudhakar Rao tells horrific condition of PPE ( Personal Protection Equipment ) for docs in Andhra #CoronaVirus
One N95 mask has been given to use for 15 days@ysjagan please provide medical supplies to the frontline doctors nurses to protect them pic.twitter.com/ijmXwsjKLM
Leader of Opposition, N Chandrababu Naidu, raised the issue, tweeting, "Dr Sudhakar opened up about the lack of masks and gloves at Narsipatnam Government Hospital, which is the minimum responsibility of AP government. Instead of addressing the issue, the doctor was suspended. His only crime was to demand for an N-95 mask. This is utterly shocking."
"If frontline medical soldiers are disrespected like this, how will Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy motivate them enough to expose themselves to risk in order to protect others. Doctors and healthcare staff must be protected and cared for during these terrible times," he added.
If frontline medical soldiers are disrespected like this, how will @ysjagan motivate them enough to expose themselves to risk in order to protect others. Doctors and healthcare staff must be protected and cared for during these terrible times (2/2)#WeStandWithDrSudhakar‚ÄĒ N Chandrababu Naidu #StayHomeSaveLives (@ncbn) April 8, 2020
"This is demoralising to the entire medical community who are standing up to serve those affected," senior TDP leader Nara Lokesh, who is also Naidu's son, tweeted.
When one doctor had the guts to call out the failure of @ysjagan to provide bare necessities such as N95 masks to frontline soldiers, he gets suspended. This is demoralizing to the entire medical community who are standing up to serve those affected #WeStandWithDrSudhakar pic.twitter.com/nZCKzPpGYq‚ÄĒ Lokesh Nara #StayHomeSaveLives (@naralokesh) April 8, 2020
The YSRCP hit back, with Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah (Nani) condemning the outburst and dubbing the doctor as a ‚Äúmotivated‚ÄĚ plant who was 'paid' by the TDP.
Speaking to a media outlet after his suspension, the doctor said, "The Chief Minister is thinking I'm a TDP worker. I am actually very troubled while sharing all of this. I spoke out as a doctor in pain and nothing else."
"Even if they suspend me, I will voluntarily continue my work in Narsipatnam as an anaesthetist. Please give me permission to do this. Otherwise, the patients will not be able to travel till Visakhapatnam and they will die. I am sorry. I will never speak up again if that's the government's wish. I just want to continue in my medical field. I hope they understand," he added.