Suddenly doctors are frontline warriors, is this what I signed up for?
Recently, a viral video of two doctors being spat at and attacked by the mob while going to examine a woman suspected of COVID-19 shook the internet and caught all our attention.It would not be surprising if one wonders if the Hippocrates Oath with the statement “first do no harm” should have had a clause with ‘terms & conditions apply’ for the doctors’ own safety.
While the healthcare workers are praised for their efforts by showering them with roses from planes and clapping utensils all over India, did any of us stop to think that what they might actually want is to get back to their homes safe without being pelted stones at and without having to feel the glaring , hostile eyes of their neighbours behind them passing impertinent comments everytime they get back from a tedious day of endless COVID duties and rounds. The very hands that clap utensils do not hesitate to pick a stone when they actually see a COVID warrior in front of them. Ironical isn’t it?
Needless to say, the lives of every single health care worker has drastically changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Attired in white PPE uniforms, several newspapers titled them ‘Angels in White’. Sadly, the life inside the PPE uniform is bleak and does not paint a pretty picture. They live in apprehension and trepidity of transmitting the illness to other non-covid patients and their family. This mental agony lasts more than the mere 8 hours of physical discomfort they face (deprived of food, washroom breaks etc.) the minute they slip into layers and layers of protective clothing.
As flagrant as it sounds, they are stripped off of 2 powerful weapons- a reassuring glance, and a promising smile which gives immense courage & hope to their patient that ‘everything is going to be fine’- as they are wrapped up in those multiple layers of fabric.
The part of the gross domestic product spent on the healthcare system in India is lowest compared to other countries. Working in institutions that are greatly understaffed, and with shortage of equipments. is a great challenge. Despite these inadequacies and by putting their own lives at risk, doctors still try to do everything to save the lives of their patients.
But for every doctor who lost his/her life battling against COVID by the sheer carelessness on the part of their patients not following social distancing protocols, and not wearing masks, it makes me wonder if all this was even worth the sacrifice. Does this sacrifice make an impact on the lives of other people? Or was this just one number among the 96,468 “number” of people who succumbed to COVID?
In this pandemic era where social distancing is the new norm and masks the. new fashion statement, the phrase ‘frontline warriors’ is just an overrated understatement. Ultimately, doctors too are human beings and beneath all those masks and visors is a simple human who is a father, a son, a husband or a friend waiting to see the faces of their loved ones and not being able to for fear of bringing the deadly virus home. Not to mention, the threats of being evicted from their own apartments, being ostracised and shunned by the society was clearly not what the ‘frontline warriors’ signed up for while saving lives.
I would like to conclude with the thought that rose petals and flower garlands are not. the form of gratitude a doctor wants in these testing times. A little understanding and consideration can go a long way. So, let us all respect our doctors for going out of their way to protect lives and safeguard. the nation against this microscopically, yet macroscopically destructive organism.