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Am I needed?!

Its official now! This city has little use of a middle aged, middle class highly qualified and internationally experienced doctor (Me!).

In my quest to break the boundaries of clinical practice and to give my country some of my skilled time, I had applied to be a member of the child welfare committee (CWC) in Delhi. The moment the interview board saw my CV, they started going ooh (!) and aah (!), praising me for being so highly qualified. But they regretted that being a doctor, I would not be able to give my time to the Mon-Fri daily sitting of 6 hours of the CWC and hence was not eligible. I was turned away and instead retired govt. servants and home makers were selected. One wonders where a home maker would get the time for daily CWC meetings esp. if her son/daughter was having exams or an illness. I wonder too, about the knowledge and skills of retired govt. servants and homemakers in dealing with children who require care and protection. They were however, better than the doctor sahib!!

This is the way our country and society, in general deals with medical professionals. Use the word ‘doctor sahib’ and keep them humored BUT do not give them any responsible positions where they can provide knowledge based advice and support and facilitate essential changes.

Did you know that non governmental organizations (NGO) with the responsibility of dealing with emotional and mental health problems of women and children do not have a single psychiatrist/medical professional on its board? Most of them employ doctors for providing a minimalist 2 hours twice a week service and that too for prescribing medications. No attempt is made to identify, treat and monitor mental disorders under the clinical leadership of a Psychiatrist. Why should they? The govt. doesn’t ask them too.

When I volunteered, free of cost, to facilitate and support a number of NGOs in Delhi in dealing with emotional and mental health problems; I was politely barred. One NGO told me that its clients had no such problems (!), another said it had adequate staff (social worker) for counseling and another started throwing names of Psychiatrists who were with them (even though a few minutes back, I had been told no one was). Most don’t even bother to call back. Thus, doctors remain cooped up in their clinical domain with little growth beyond their practice.

I contrast this with the two years stint I had as an Invited Trustee with an organization in Liverpool, England. I was welcomed with open arms when I offered my time. Throughout the two years that I was in Liverpool, I attended the monthly review meetings and offered support and advice about the programs run for young people at a youth center. We worked together as a team with the aim of giving the best possible experience to adolescents and youngsters at our youth center. It was thoroughly satisfying and enriching! I long for such experiences again, in India.

But will ‘Doctor sahib’ be called?!!

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