- 50.4% of Indians believe that strike is the right way to protest by medical professionals while 43.3% believe that it wasn’t
- A higher percentage of respondents from states with a low doctor-population ratio disapproved of strikes as a right form of protest by medical professionals
- 71.2% of respondents believe that a central law to check violence against healthcare professionals will act as an effective deterrent to violence
- 23.2% of respondents believe that such a law may not control violence effectively
India’s population is growing and so is its expectations of good healthcare. The doctor-patient relationship has been and remains the core of healthcare. However, the increasing burden on scarce resources often pushes both sides to extremes. According to Indian Medical Association (IMA) surveys, 75% of doctors have complained of verbal abuse and 12% of physical violence.
On 11 June, the brutal assault on a junior doctor in Kolkata, allegedly by the outraged kin of a deceased patient, sparked protests across the country. About 800,000 doctors joined the protests reportedly affecting healthcare services across the nation.
We asked Neta App users if going on a strike was the right way to protest by medical professionals and if a central law would help curb hospital violence effectively. The survey was conducted across sixteen states and the national capital. Here’s what we found-
Indians divided over protesting doctors, 43% say a strike is not the right way
About 43.3% of respondents believed that strike was not the right way to protest by medical professionals. Understandably, strikes adversely affect medical services. 50.4% of respondents, however, believed that going on a strike was the right thing to do.
Now peaceful protests are a basic human right, but when it comes to protesting healthcare professionals, their proximity to life and death and the Hippocratic Oath together create an ethical dilemma.
A deeper look at the state-wise responses revealed an interesting bit. We compared opinions from states with different doctor-population ratios. For simplicity, we call states with a higher density of doctors than the WHO norm of one for 1000 people as medical surplus states and those with a far lower density as states with a medical deficit.
Here’s what the analysis revealed-Simply put, we found that a higher percentage of respondents medical deficit states disapproved of a strike as a right way of protest by medical professionals than medical surplus states.
Here’s the complete state-wise break-up-Doctors in West Bengal, the epicentre of the protests, ended their week-long strike after CM Banerjee assured them of enhanced security at the hospitals. The protests may have ended but the events over the past week have reignited the debate around the need for legal provisions for safeguarding medical professionals.
IMA has written to Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare professionals in the country.
Will a central law save the savior effectively?
While 71.2% of respondents across the country believe that a central law would effectively prevent attacks on doctors and on healthcare facilities, 23.2% of them believed it wouldn’t. In West Bengal, the epicentre of doctors’ protest, over 73% of respondents believed that central law could prevent attacks on doctors effectively.
Here’s the state-wise breakup of opinion-
Laws already exist but are rarely implemented
In our country, outrage against any form of crime is often associated with subsequent demand for specialised laws prohibiting such crimes. Public health is a state subject and therefore the responsibility of preventing hospital violence ultimately rests with the states. Interestingly, at least 19 states, including West Bengal, the epicentre of recent protests, already have in place state legislation to curb violence against healthcare professionals.
So, do we need a new law or an effective implementation of existing ones? Let us know your views in the comments below.
Note: We allow our users to register grey area responses that may not be categorised as a definitive yes/no response. Therefore, the percentages may not add up to exactly 100%.