Fight against pandemic in Goa is far from over
AT a time when doctors in the state, both in the government service and private sector, should be working towards fighting the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, there appears to be disquiet among them. This unrest comes in wake of an order issued by Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the dean of the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) directing the doctors of the premier health institution in the state not to join any organization, association or an institution even on honorary basis until the COVID-19 pandemic is out, as their services are needed for the smooth functioning of the GMCH. The order was issued by the dean at the instruction of the health authorities.
However, the state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has taken exception to the order issued by the dean. The IMA has questioned why the order was issued now when the pandemic is on the wane and not at the time when it was at its peak. It is the contention of the IMA that the order would adversely affect various programmes organized by it. It would also adversely impact autonomous bodies like the Goa Medical Council. According to GMCH management, the IMA’s allegations are far- fetched as the directive to its doctors is a temporary measure to deal with an extraordinary situation. There is some merit in the GMCH management’s view that Goa is still not out of the COVID-19 shadow and the guard against it cannot be lowered till the threat vanishes. Even if a measure comes belatedly, it is better late than never. Caution is half the battle won. We have managed to tide over the pandemic hurricane. But its long tail continues to threaten. Doctors of the GMCH, who worked hard to fight the pandemic, need to give their 24-hour attention to make sure any cross transmission of the pandemic causing virus does not take place or at least was kept to the minimal level. Goan people have great faith in the doctors of GMCH and hence turn up in large numbers for treatment. It is absolutely necessary that their ailments are quickly and properly diagnosed and treated.
It is time for both doctors at the GMCH doctors and in private hospitals to work together with a single focus to drive the last nail in the coffin of the pandemic. This focus would be lost in a war of words. In normal times, experts from the GMCH guide doctors in the private sector on various medical advances and treatment processes at programmes organized by the IMA. When the times are normal, the same can be resumed. The directive to GMCH doctors asking them not to join any organization, association or institution is not permanent. It would surely be withdrawn when the COVID-19 threat is over, which could not be very far with the vaccination programme and potential development of herd immunity. It has to be noted that the order issued by the GMCH dean is prospective and not retrospective. That means that the GMCH doctors who have been elected to the Goa Medical Council would not be affected by the order, provided they had sought prior approval from the government to contest the elections.
The IMA and the state government should avoid confrontation and seek to build bridges rather than burning them. A dialogue between them might resolve the issues arising out of the directive. Perhaps the IMA should take up the matter with the higher health authorities for a smoother and better resolution. Dissemination and sharing of various medical advances and treatment processes is without doubt necessary for the cause of better management of health problems in the Goan society. At the same time, GMCH doctors must not let their responsibilities towards the patients at large be neglected. For what is the use of dissemination of medical advances and treatment processes when the patients do not get any benefit when they need them? Both government and private doctors must focus their attention to treat the patients who suffer from various ailments and to keep their intervention and vigilance at the highest level against the coronavirus in order to prevent any resurgence of it.Doctors’ Main Focus