Stigma Against Junior Doctors In Telangana Over COVID-19
On March 22 millions of Indians stayed indoors in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for a ‘Janata Curfew’ to help check the spread of Coronavirus.
Not only that, as he exhorted them to, they came out at 5 pm that day, clapping hands, ringing bells, banging plates and spoons and some even playing musical instruments. This was meant to be a show of gratitude to health workers and other essential service providers who are working round the clock to test and treat patients.
But now those who showed their gratitude to the doctors with bells and applause are stigmatizing doctors and abusing them, asking them to vacate their houses. These home owners believe that doctors who are living in their rented apartments could be spreading the virus in their areas.
In Warangal a junior doctor from Kakatiya University, who preferred to remain silent, spoke to The Lede about his problems. “Our accommodation in Junior Doctors’ Hostel ends on March 26 and new house surgeons will join from here after. So we thought to take rented houses. But it was a shock for us when my friends and I got to know that residents are not willing to give houses to us out of fear. They think that we spread COVID-19. We tried 2-3 houses but all of them denied to give houses for rent. Even a few of our friends who are already staying in rented houses were abused and scolded by the apartment people saying that they spread the infection. Seeing the situation, even our friends want to vacate the houses. Since we are left with no choice, we have reported this issue to our senior officials. Now we are scared that if people get to know this, they won’t even give houses in the future,” he lamented.
Dr G Srinivas, President of the Resident Doctors Association of NIMS Hospital told The Lede – “We request the people of Telangana to understand that COVID-19 does not spread through junior doctors. It is spread through infected patients and that too not through air. It is spread through oral and nasal discharge.”
He also said that junior doctors were not involved in treating COVID-19 patients and that they are treating other patients and conducting emergency surgeries. The Principal of Kakatiya Medical University in Warangal has created alternative accommodation for 200 junior doctors in the college,” he said.
MR Madhu Mohan Reddy, a doctor at Sowmya Hospital in Hyderabad says he feels let down by the public reaction to doctors. “Public should be responsible. They should understand that we are no less than soldiers who fight within the country to save the public. We are risking our lives to protect the public and we take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves. We are trained to control this disease. If people don’t allow us to stay in their houses and if we follow government orders which says to stay at our own homes. then who will treat you people?” he asked.
Speaking to The Lede, health minister Etela Rajender says he is appealing to the people to not behave in this way with doctors. “They are working for us. We have arranged alternate accommodation to these junior doctors in the medical campus itself. The chief minister and the government is appealing to the public to support doctors. They are here to help us. We also request the media to create awareness in handling such situations,” he said.