There is a Spanish Proverb that "Let your heart guide your head in evil matters" and this is a food for thought for those doctors who want to carry on with private practice to grab more and more. Banning private practice has been a big agenda before the government over many decades but I believe that there is no question of thinking over the possibility of not having it banned for good.
What change is anticipated in the over all system after which the ban should be implemented? Their argument doesn't hold water. It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness. How many will listen to the truth when you actually tell them? It is the doctors who are shirking their responsibility and subjecting the people to so many difficulties. One commits a sin if one fails to do his duty. After all private practice is done at the cost of one's duty. Today we look upon it as their birth right. A saying goes that "commit a sin twice and it will not seem a crime", thus allowing of private practice by doctors doesn't seem a crime.
If doctors would do their job with dedication and honesty without any private practice I believe that there would be no complaint from the people. Patient-doctor ratio in the Kashmir valley is not so great that would subject patients to severe difficulties and allow doctors to attribute everything to a tremendous pressure in the hospitals. They take it as a pretext and believe that private practice will help them cope with the increasing rush of the patients.
Tomorrow the doctors will come up with the pretext that their Nursing Homes provide better facilities and the government should convert their hospitals into schools, offices and may be stables.
There are instances where doctors sabotage the precious equipments in the government hospitals, thus compelling the poor patients to go to their clinics for examination. It is amazing to see that some doctors while examining the patients in the government hospitals persuade them to come to their clinics for "better treatment".
Again, can a poor man afford the charges at any of the Nursing Homes in Srinagar? Many people have many bitter experiences about the Nursing Homes run by doctors who love private practice. A year ago while accompanying a patient in Lal Dad hospital, a strong feeling I could not help. I thought why all the people do not come forward on voluntary basis to keep the hospital clean, for we are getting the best treatment here against a paltry amount. Therefore the government hospitals should be held in high esteem and their sanctity should be maintained. People should know the value of government hospitals for poor men have no other way to get treatment.
I personally have never seen doctors counseling a patient about the disease rather most of the times the doctors write drugs of their own choice, for which they receive gifts etc from drug agents.
Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat forever, goes the saying. Had the doctors been educating and creating awareness among the common masses and honest with their drug prescription, there would have been no problem at all. But they have no time, because they have to reach their clinic. Their motto seems to be "God help the rich, the poor can look after themselves."
I believe the government lacks will and capacity to ban the practice effectively. After all, the government is paying them hefty salaries and the people hold them in high esteem. They are also getting non-practicing allowances for which only a few doctors are eligible. The doctors should count their blessings and not hang on about their right to have private practice.
The doctors who love private practice are dollar chasers. They can make the government a hostage at any time. Some doctors use hatchet to remove fly from patient's forehead. They have become a man of success but rather they have to become a man of value. To these doctors I would say, one who lives for others lives the best life and one must live for today, for tomorrow may never come. A saying goes that "Good name is better than riches.
To those who are suffering from severe health problems I would suggest them to go to Internet at least once a weak and download the details about the disease concerned and study it thoroughly and then discuss it with a good doctor. By this, one can even dictate and update the doctors already existing knowledge. There is no need to follow a queue in the hospitals and discuss it with those doctors who shy to discuss these things and become arrogant.
According to Albert Einstein "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. A careful diet approach in day-to-day life, would guide a person more than going to a doctor. I personally believe on the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
(Dr. Muhammad Amin Malik is from Deptt of Physics, Govt. Degree College Handwara. He can be mailed at Email:email@example.com)