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Is VIP/VVIP Covid Testing and Treatment a new status symbol?

Has immediate Covid testing and vaccination at doorsteps become a new status symbol? A country where people with their ‘jugaad’ is compromising the already crunched situation. Imagine your inability to get the covid test following the protocols and somebody else are having it on their doorsteps — infuriating, right?

A society that loves to wear its privilege on its sleeve; and where big shots like MLAs etc have their post written on its vehicle will miss out on the VIP/VVIP status?

In such an unpropitious time amid the pandemic when the country is battling the worst crisis of the second wave of the virus with 2.34 lakh new cases, India records an all-time high Covid tally in a day. Without a shadow of a doubt, the numbers are highly underestimated. And in times like such Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) writes to the Prime Minister on VIP/VVIP duty amid the pandemic

The doctors have written to the Prime Minister opposing the prevalent culture of VIP treatment to the big names and requested him to bring an end to the practice. 

The Federation has brought to the notice of the prime minister regarding the gaps in the facilities for the VIPs which are not even available to the frontline workers at this moment in time. 

The frontline ‘Covid Warriors’ comprising of several medical associations have written to the Prime minister mentioning the facility of VIP counters for testing, allowing party workers and personal contacts of politicians and ministers to get themselves tested at many government hospitals whereas there are no separate counters for doctors for testing”

Is clapping and banging utensils enough for appreciating frontline workers? The fact is not hidden by the amount of pressure the medical fraternity is facing since the pandemic started, and if the ministers and the leaders are not going to set an example for the citizens, then who will? Shouldn’t each and everyone who is extracting the resources with its so-called ‘jugaad’ and burdening the resources be held accountable and questioned? 

Abolitions of the VIP culture has been a long-standing demand for doctors across the country. The medical dialogues team has been reporting about the same. These doctors have been condemning the practice of engaging government doctors on VIP/VVIP duty without following proper guidelines.

Whenever a VIP/VVIP were made to visit the health centre, the doctors get deployed to their services which is not just a waste of time but also the available manpower. Such practices took place without following any proper guidelines, alleged by the doctors, according to a Medical Dialogues report.

The issue turned more grave during the pandemic when the VIPs were prioritized while conducting Covid testing or during the treatment process.

Addressing the issue, the FAIMA in the recent letter to the prime minister wrote, “ With due respect, we want to inform you that doctors being at the forefront of this pandemic are risking their own lives but what we receive in return is standing long queues for Covid testing, no bed or ICU availability when tested positive for own self and the priority is given to the politicians and their party workers who have actually held rallied and increased the spread of the virus”

Central government hospitals have VIP counters for testing, allowing party workers and personal contacts of the politician and ministers to get themselves tested but in many places, doctors have no separate counter for testing mentioned in the letter.

“Even when VIP counter is available for covid testing, majority of politicians call doctors at their residence which has no legal order from medical superintendent but is happening informally using the doctors in government setup and thus further reducing and wasting the limited manpower available”

The Indian medical association joined the move and in a letter, dated 15.04.2021, addressed to PM Modi, mentioning: “ The working doctors are anguished at the undue stress due to this VIP culture and partial preference being awarded to politicians, bureaucrats, party workers etc and decreasing morale of many frontline workers.”

“During the first wave 756 doctor’s lost their life in the fight against corona and they are yet to be recognised as warriors and honoured by the government,” it said, mentioning the death of hundreds of doctors during the first wave coronavirus pandemic.

Likewise, Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) has pointed out that the VIP practice is drastically affecting the day to day functioning of the healthcare centre in the state. The association recently condemned the practice of engaging government doctors on VIP/VVIP duty without following proper guidelines and issued a statement in this regard.

According to the existing guidelines, a notice needs to be issued prior to such duties outside hospitals, the statement, however, pointed out that the doctors were being called just a few hours in advance.

“ This creates a lot of difficulties for patients who reach the hospitals. Usually, senior doctors aged above 50 years are being assigned with the task of accompanying VVIPS and they are confronting gross human rights violations in terms of facilities being provided,” the statement further read.

In times when there are long queues of ambulances outside hospitals with patients, the one in power should understand their responsibility. The government on the other hand should keep a check of any misuse of the already crunched situation and strive to end such practices. 

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