Blame me Not
THERE ARE STORIES AND STORIES WHICH WE CAN NARRATE ENDLESSLY. ALL POINTING TO THE SAME END. WHERE IS THE SYSTEM WHICH WE ARE A PART OF. WRITES MUQBIL BURHAN
Life has so much to offer. Certain things we cherish and most we don’t. Reason in itself has much to say. We will blame something – most of the time human nature. We are often not happy with all we have and all we get. My marketing Professor says there is no genuine reason enough genuine to take the blame of failure. I don’t know if he really means so and is ready to take the blame for all his failures in life. Circumstances do have their say in all that happens. “Make your circumstances favourable to you, rather than allowing them to make you”, something like this, I faintly remember, is how Napoleon Bonaparte used to address his army. I tried to change the direction of the wind using Napoleon Sir’s formula whenever swamped, but fizzled in an awkward predicament. Sometimes blamed situations, sometimes people and more often things around, and if nothing, then my luck was always ready to take the blame. But what to do when we are confronted by situations where blaming anything seems as difficult as the situation. My friend drudged hard to be a doctor and it was a dream come true for him and his parents. Everything was good till he found the profession doesn’t suit him. It was too late to backtrack and too late to blame. What I want to write here is about this profession which my father always thought to be the noblest but still preferred his children to take any profession but this. The reason for him although was simple. He never wanted us to jump into the bandwagon. Everyone around wanted his or her child to be a doctor. Some were intelligent or lucky enough to pass the entrance exam and some rich or unlucky enough to invest heavy bucks in private medical schools where returns on investment are in public health. M.B.B.S. seemed to be the only recognized degree and Non-medicos were treated as second citizens. Students who didn’t take biology as subject were believed to be least capable. The impact has been evident on our economic, social and public life.
When Government Medical College in our state was set up, Principal faced a dearth of corpse for experiments. On that Chief Minister suggested him to send the first batch of students into practice as soon as possible and you will get unlimited number of them. The practice although is still rampant, as if they are still in search of dead bodies. The profession has everything but professionalism in it. With a business called insurance taking leaps in the modern world, the new business of corporate hospitals have found its way to common man’s pocket. Health as a business has subdued health as a right. The profession once characterized to be most baronial has proudly taken the attributes which ostensibly are everything but the qualities of this profession. People wearing white aprons have imbibed the untamed arrogance of Hebrews. Stethoscope around the neck seems to be there for reasons more than it is meant for.
I had a bitter experience of all this in the past year or so when I had to move from one hospital to another, and after one doc’ to another for my father’s treatment. I don’t know whether I should blame lack of ethics in the profession to the medical education in India or the people in the business. There were so many incidents each of which would be enough for someone in the developed country to sue the whole system. but in a country which is just dreaming to be in the race without realizing that achievements require something more than dreaming, we probably have to settle down with the blames till we forget the incident and get ready to bear the humiliation again. It was September of last year when junior doctors in my state went on indefinite strike leading already ailing health system of the state to deteriorate further. The demands might have been genuine but never genuine enough to violate the basic human right of health. Senior docs in the government hospitals apparently managed emergency and day care centres, and interns helped them. My father was to get treatment in the day care centre. The hospital is about 50 miles from our place and we reached early in the morning considering the crowd and strike. The condition of patients lying on the untidy beds and waiting in long queues for their turn in a hospital fully supported by government funds and WHO, would make even Hitler cry but not the officials.
Everyone around except the concerned staff seemed to be concerned about the unhealthy and disheveled condition of the hospital which was once thought to be a crown and pride of our state for its sophistication. After a long wait, with everyone’s eyes on the door, appeared a fat snobbish man, looking like a Colobus Guereza in his late 40s, with white attire which seemed to be no less than king’s gown for the Praja waiting for him. Trust me, his appearance was no less than Jahanpanah’s visit… medical staff getting mobilized for nothing, some missing staff accompanying him like his ministers and even patients trying to stand up in his honor. Before Shahanshah could start his proceedings, he was interrupted by his council of ministers who took him along for a cup of tea which lasted for more than half an hour. Our turn took another half an hour. My narration of medical history of my father and some small suggestions offended the doctor so much that he literary asked his staff to throw me out. I was in no state to resist knowing my position and my father’s condition. Doctor left and I came back. Medical attendant started injecting something in the drip and on my enquiry the reply was crisp.
Shut your mouth and let me do my job. As the humiliation was not enough, interns too thought of showing their might. Discharge summary was prepared and the intern asked me to put that in the patient file, that even a non-medico like me considered something confidential. I did for the intern who was busy preparing for his PG exams and more so because I could not afford being thrown out again… medical staff was still around, although in a hurry to leave before the clock stuck 2 in the afternoon – time they had decided to say goodbye, and by now I knew their job very well. Lost in the horrendous situation that I was facing as an attendant with my father fighting his life, this doctor or would be a doctor started shouting at me. “Do U keep the papers like this in a file??? Till what standard could you complete your studies?” My fault, which I could understand, was that I didn’t punch the discharge summary. It may well be his frustration of not clearing his PG exams after appearing for them several times. He was in no mood to tell anything. All I could answer was that if this is taught in the medical books, then I am sorry I am not qualified enough. I wanted to cry and found a good reason to shed my tears in the corner. We left the hospital thanking God for junior docs to be on strike. Facing their frustration would have been another daunting experience.
I remember as a little kid, I had some petty skin problem visible only to magnifying eyes of parents. They say problem is like a pregnancy and no one is less or more pregnant. I was taken to a famous dermatologist and we visited him in his hospital compound where he was passing the time by looking at clock to stuck the time he thought right to leave... but, as expected, he advised us to visit him in his private clinic for a proper check up. It took me long to understand that these so called thorough checkups actually mean paid checkups and can only be done in private clinics and hospitals. Long queues of medical representatives outside doctor rooms tell a grim and gloomy story in itself. Doctors proudly suggest where to get the medicine from if their clinics do not have medical shops to support their prescription, and where to get diagnostic tests done, if diagnostics is not done in the clinic. Ophthalmologists’ in our town have their own optician shops and almost everyone visiting them is to come out with extra eyes. Thanks to my town ophthalmologist, I also wear specs. Dentists work out their way suitably enough for several more sittings for patients visiting them.
Thanks to them, my cousin is well versed about the dental jargon, for they have vainly practiced almost everything on his teeth. Surgical instruments left inside the body by surgeons, during those avoidable surgeries, are taken out in surgical resurgence. Prescription of high doses of low grade medicine ,which earn our life savers precious gifts, is rampant. One of the acquaintances was even given the pace maker for something which was later diagnosed as brain tumour. True relation between heart and brain which nobody knows better than our white aproned well wishers. Stories are many, infact unlimited, but the better stories make us forget all bad ones. If we have a bunch of selfish professionals, we also have Munna bhais trying their best to regain the glory of the profession losing its shine with every passing day. People we still look up to, we still wish our children to be like and we still have faith that we are in safe hands. We still remember Dr. Ali Jan in my state and feel proud of the legacy he left behind. The problem seems to be in the changing tide we all blindly follow and docs took no exception. The only difference is that it made a direct impact on everyone around. There is a dilution of human values and character. My friends doing their research in the best Indian labs, adorned by sophisticated instruments bought from tax payers’ money, preferred sleep when I asked them to walk for cancer awareness and fund raising. They think they have been doing enough for cancer treatment in these labs. Never could I understand what these labs do for the treatment. All I have understood is that we cannot get path breaking results unless we have the intensions to do so for someone other than our own self. We lack commitment and selflessness which is the primary need of result oriented goals. Lets us realize that whatever we do has an impact on the society as a whole. After all we have certain obligations to our society and humanity as a whole.
(Muqbil Burhan is a doctoral student at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and hails from Islamabad, South Kashmir. He is working on technology transfer and IPRs. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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