Why voice of Vets not heard in the corridors of power?

Pashu Sandesh, 19th June 2019

Nearly a week ago Doctors in a Calcutta Hospital were brutally assaulted by the unruly relatives and friends of patients who died while undergoing treatment. One of the Doctors, Dr Pariboho Mukherjee suffered serious head injuries due to assault. Soon pictures of the badly injured, Blood soaked Pariboho lying on a stretcher started making rounds on the Social Media and within no time the Doctors of the Bengal were on the streets, shutting down their patient care work, many of them resigning from their Post in a singular demand for security of Doctors across the State. The demand reverberated with the whole Doctor community all across the nation and a movement was built which shook the State Government which was earlier adamant and arrogant on the whole issue. Indian Medical Association (IMA) and other private Doctors associations took the cognisance of the whole issue and the problem which started from the West Bengal soon related itself with all the Doctors of the Nation as shown by nearly complete shut down of the Medical services on 17th June. IMA and Doctors across the Nation showed their strength and their critical role in the country. Media too highlighted the issue with all their might, Firstly as it was emanating from the Politically turbulent West Bengal and Secondly, it had all the ingredient of a successful Blockbuster. The issue finally resolved but in the process, it reminded the Nation that any assault on the Doctors will not be tolerated.

In another case recently a Veterinary Doctor, Dr Anoop was thrashed in Thiruvananthapuram  Kerala by the unruly owner of a pet which allegedly died after receiving treatment. The poor Vet was beaten so severely by the accused and his accomplices that he is now admitted in the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital. No so-called highest TRP media has reported the incidence. 

Anyone can make out the stark contrast of the nature of response meted out in both these cases. Media has not raised its voice in support of Dr Anoop and knocked on the relevant Doors to say that look Vets too suffer in a similar manner as their Human Doctor counterparts. Media will report an incident only on its sensational merit and from when news about poor Animals and there equally hapless care providers would carry some sensational value!!! 

Veterinary Doctors would also need to share some responsibility for their poor voice in the corridors of power. The pathetic state of affairs at the IVA and VCI is for everyone to see. Both these apex bodies which are supposed to be the Father and Mother of the Vets are themselves looking for some semblance. When you compare these bodies with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the comparison itself fall flat on its face. On one hand, Doctors have a well oiled MCI to look after their administrative and academic affairs, and on the other IMA look after the interests of the Medical community and work as a bridge between Government and the Doctors. Nearly all the doctors are associated with IMA and any call or directive given by the IMA is followed in letter and spirit.

Now we come to the state of affairs at VCI and IVA. The administrative affairs at VCI are managed by the Government appointed Secretary who is looking after the daily affairs. One look at the VCI website is enough to gauge its present state. With no new information and directives for Veterinary education in the country, anyone from the profession would feel disconnected and demoralised. Since the last two years, there is no President, no governing body of the VCI and it is charting its course as a rudderless, captainless ship. Another apex body IVA which is supposed to look after the interests of the Vets was working from ICU for a long time barely surviving on a Ventilator. Recently attempts have been made to revive IVA for the betterment of present and future Veterinary Doctors. Pashu Chikitsak Mahasangh a federation of different State Veterinary Associations has revived the IVA.

Recently High-court of Punjab-Haryana in a landmark verdict opined that the Animals are legal persons with corresponding rights of a living person. The news made a buzz in the section of Animal Welfare activists and fizzed out as quickly as it originated and the stark truth remains that the Animals are only considered as a means of income, means of transport means of entertainment and a good source of Protein. The state of their caregivers no different, who are often not treated at par as their Human Doctor counterparts and they have to fight for equality. The public view remains the same as any uneasiness of Vets would not affect their lives directly and adversely. 

There are laws for the protection of Doctors and Veterinary Doctors against unruly patients and patient relatives. The awareness regarding same is sourly lacking both among the Law enforcers and the victims ie Doctors and Vets. At the time of causality of a patient, tempers run high and there is all the possibility of violent behaviour. These are sensitive times and need to be tackled with both soft but firm behaviour backed by strong laws.

The need of the hour is the unity among Vets and a strong Indian Veterinary Association. IVA can only be strengthened when it would be supported by Vets all across the nation in a selfless manner. There are regional issues of the Vets as well as National issues which needed to be addressed in such an overwhelming manner as we saw in the case of assault on the Doctors of Calcutta.