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IMA declares 23 April as Black Day in protest against attacks on doctors tackling Covid-19

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Residents of Tatpatti Bakhal in Indore apologise to a team of doctors, a day after health workers were attacked by a mob, on 2 April 2020
Residents of Tatpatti Bakhal in Indore apologise to a team of doctors, a day after health workers were attacked by a mob, on 2 April 2020 | PTI


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New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Monday declared it will observe 23 April as a ‘Black Day’ to protest against increasing attacks on doctors and healthcare workers, the country’s frontline in the fight against the highly infectious Covid-19 disease.

The IMA has also demanded that the central government enact a law to punish those perpetrating violence against medical personnel.

In a statement issued Monday, national president of the IMA, Dr Rajan Sharma said doctors and hospitals will send out a ‘white alert’ on 22 April by lighting a candle as a mark of protest. A day later, on 23 April, they will observe ‘Black Day’.

“All the doctors in the country will work with black badges. Further decision will be taken if suitable steps are not taken by the government even after Black Day”, the statement said.

Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in several parts of the country have been attacked and abused by people scared of contracting the virus from them.


Also read: Dear Indians, don’t clap for doctors battling Covid-19 if you don’t want them as neighbours


Attacks on doctors

The IMA statement comes a day after the cremation of a doctor, who died of coronavirus, triggered a protest in Chennai. 

A group of local residents even hurled stones at the ambulance carrying the body before the cremation. 

In a similar incident last week, locals had protested in Chennai against the cremation of a 56-year-old doctor from Andhra Pradesh who died of the infection.

This is not all. On Sunday, a mob of 200 people had attacked a healthcare team in a Bengaluru neighbourhood, who had come to take primary and secondary contacts of coronavirus-positive patients to a quarantine facility.

Earlier this month, doctors in Indore were attacked by a mob when they had visited an area to screen people for Covid-19. 

In the national capital, two female doctors from Safdarjung Hospital were attacked by a 42-year-old man, who accused them of spreading the infection.

‘Dignity is denied even in death’

Referring to the Chennai incident, the IMA statement said “obstruction to cremation is the last straw that IMA can bear”.

“Doctors have been abused, beaten up, denied entry… (but) If dignity is denied even in death, our patience and restraint lose their value,” it added.

“The Covid-19 had only made us acutely aware of our helplessness against mindless abuse and violence. Stigma and social boycott are everywhere. Harassment by administration is nothing but violence by the state,” the IMA stated.


Also read: Doctors, hospital workers are also fighting abuse and violence as virus stigma, panic grows


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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