In the wake of unrest in the medical fraternity due to tabling of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill in Parliament and the recent remarks made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London on the alleged nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical companies, doctors across the country are disappointed.
The question is whether this unrest among doctors will result in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) losing a huge chunk of votes in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
Most of the doctors have supported the BJP so far, as they believed that the country needed a new, stronger and honest leadership for a better and a bright future. However, in the last one year, poor policymaking by the Centre has left the medical fraternity and those who aspire to be a part of it sceptical about bringing the party in power again in 2019.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Nitin Bhagali, from the Pune Citizens Doctors Forum said most of the doctors might now vote for ‘None of the above’, popularly known as NOTA.
“The doctors have suffered a lot. With the recent remarks made by the prime minister in London, the image of the medical fraternity in the eye of the common man is now tainted. Sadly, it was made by the Prime Minister himself in the United Kingdom (UK), where the public healthcare system is run by Indian doctors,” said Dr Bhagali.
He added that the PM seems to be in favour of Ayurveda and Homeopathy. “The bridge course proposed in the NMC Bill will hamper the overall quality of healthcare given to the people. A doctor from Ayurveda and Homeopathy will be able to easily learn allopathy, otherwise for which one normally spends more than four years,” said Dr Bhagali.
He hinted that these decisions have left the medical fraternity upset with the current government, which will play a major role in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Echoing similar sentiments, Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, Maharashtra State Secretary for Indian Medical Association (IMA), said the health budget allocation under the ruling government has remained the same.
“The Union health budget has not allocated more funds to the sector. This also reflects the hesitation shown by the government in strengthening the public health infrastructure. Doctors in the government sector are also unhappy, as they cannot work without proper infrastructure, which all governments have failed to provide,” said Sanghvi.
He said the NMC Bill aims at making medical education more expensive. “In that case, more and more students would choose to work with a private facility as the pay scale is better there. This will add to the shortage of doctors and force patients to choose private hospitals for treatment. This will increase the out-of-pocket expenditure of patients,” said Dr Sanghvi.
The future of medicine, medical aspirants are facing trouble as the government intends to bring the NMC bill and letting private colleges regulate fees making the medical education too expensive. The ruling government has faced protests by the IMA across the country. In addition to this, the remarks made by the PM have left a feeling of anguish among doctors. If the BJP aims to please this vote bank for 2019, it has to do a major course correction while drafting and implementing its policies.