I have seen the TV serial The Good Doctor. A doctor is always good. This is a noble profession and the doctors are bound by the professional oath of honesty, integrity, transparency, accountability, confidentiality, respectfulness and lawfulness. In the present pandemic, doctors are in the frontline, serving tirelessly at the risk of their life. Some have become martyrs. They all deserve our salutation and the nation needs to express deep gratitude to them.
Even outside the pandemic, doctors go beyond their line of duty, facing tremendous challenges. I have witnessed time and again the extraordinary competence, commitment and courage of our doctors. Starting from Uganda in 1998, the numerous medical missions to more than 20 countries in Africa and India, they have worked against all odds, and even faced threats to their life. When our team of surgeons and volunteers arrived at Kampala, there were serious threats of bomb blasts. Yet two surgeons, Dr S P S Grewal and Dr Uma Pradhan flew on a small plane to Gulu, the epicentre of insurgency. They performed cataract surgeries for five days, giving much-needed vision to over 250 people.
We went to Nigeria in 2000. There were constant threats to the lives of our team members and we were always accompanied by armed police. There was so much of need that we went to Nigeria three times. Kidnapping had become a norm on highways. In Abuja, there was constant fear of Boko Haram. Our team was always provided with top security by the Nigerian government. Our noble doctors performed miracles giving vision, mobility and life to so many. These doctors worked without any financial consideration and their only remuneration or reward was the satisfaction of serving humanity.
I wish I could name all these heroes. However, some names deserve mentioning — Dr G S Kochhar, Dr R S Parmar, Dr P S Chari, Dr Rajiv Pradhan and Dr Madhav Borate who were the pioneers. We have gone to more than 25 countries in Africa and elsewhere. Another fatal danger was the exposure to HIV/AIDS. These doctors rose above their professional commitment and treated the needy patients, often using double gloves and other protection. In Lesotho, our surgeons Dr Parmar and Dr Taposhi Patnaik got needle pricks while operating upon a HIV/AIDS patient. They had to take the antiretroviral therapy.
Our team was provided security by the Nigerian government. These doctors worked without any financial consideration; their only reward was the satisfaction of serving humanity.
Our medical missions within India started in 2006. The locations were determined on the basis of local needs and at times, several of these places were infested with danger. In 2007, the team went to Baripada, Odisha, an active centre of the Maoists. We were in Udhampur where there was always fear of attacks from across the border. Our team worked in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, the home of Naxalites. The doctors did their tasks consistently, courageously and with commitment. In Dimapur, Nagaland, a critical surgery was being performed by the local surgeon. They requested our doctors’ assistance but unfortunately the patient died on the table. Although, the consent form was duly signed by the patient, the relatives created havoc for our surgeons and were prepared to kill them. Thankfully the matter was resolved by the district magistrate.
For the doctors working in hospitals for Covid patients, the challenges are immense and life threatening. Yet they are working against all odds to triumph over the enemy — coronavirus. All for the sake of humanity.
The great German medical missionary who worked in Africa, Dr Albert Schweitzer has said, “I do not know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” This is the spirit our doctors have. Let us bow to them and their families.
The writer is a past RI president.
(Courtesy: The Tribune)