No communication from the government at all

Updated: 28 March, 2020 07:28 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

IMA slams health min's allegation of private doctors shutting businesses amid crisis; no cooperation from govt, IMA alleges

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray (Photo: CMO/Twitter)
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray (Photo: CMO/Twitter)

Following health minister Rajesh Tope's remark over doctors having closed down their clinics and nursing homes in times of a health crisis, the Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra) has asked the minister why private doctors were not taken into confidence by the state administration since the Covid-19 outbreak. The association asked the minister to introspect while asking him why concrete information was hidden from medical practitioners and personal protection equipment was denied to them. IMA said that the government lacked planning and has now put the blame on doctors to cover up its inefficiency.

Tope claimed on Friday that many doctors had shut their businesses and urged them to show sensitivity in treating the people who suffered from ailments other than Covid-19 infection. "Why are the doctors scared? There are people who need routine checks and treatment. The police have given all essential services support. The doctors should show some 'daring'," he said in his webcast.

In response, the president of Maharashtra's unit of Indian Medical Association, Dr Avinash Bhondwe, told mid-day from Pune that the minister's observation amounted to a baseless allegation. "Making such a statement is wrong on the part of the minister. Do you know that the administration did not take us into confidence since the infection cases were reported and the state began the efforts of containing the outbreak? There are no instructions or communication from the government till date," he said.
A fuming Bhondwe said that instead of sensitising private doctors who are more than willing to share the government's burden, the administration sent them unilateral notices. "When we operated our OPDs and nursing homes, the police asked us to disperse the crowd because it violated section 144. The police totally misunderstood the meaning of lockdown. Where were the guidelines? The police threatened doctors and beat up paramedics who travelled to their workplaces. Around 80 per cent of our members couldn't operate their establishments because of police excesses," he said.

'Two-way communication must'

Dr Bhondwe said that he was speaking from his clinic where he was seeing patients. "Most of the doctors in Maharashtra are open since Thursday. We issued instructions to our members on March 24 without waiting for the government instructions on how to work during the lockdown. But the fear of police and lack of transportation for our staff hampered schedules."

The IMA head said that masks and personal protection equipment (PPE) kits were not available even when the doctors and hospitals were ready to buy them. "We have been watching big announcements on television but nothing is happening on the ground. The administration must inquire why some of us are closed or operating on bare minimum capacity. There has to be a two-way communication," he said.

Dr Bhondwe said that apart from the government's ill-planning, the mentality of the people was also creating a serious problem for the doctors, nurses and supporting staff. "In Pune's Kharadi neighbourhood, people forced a hospital to shut down fearing infection. Interns and resident doctors from government hospitals have been asked to vacate private hostels. This could happen to anyone working in the medical field. What is the government doing?" he asked.

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First Published: 28 March, 2020 07:17 IST

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