Saturday, October 3, 2009

So much for my 'Indian Hospital Experience'

While trawling the net I came across a blog ( about the travails of an American, getting treated for a mole/wart/skin cancer in New Delhi. The experience narrated in this post is exactly the kind of stuff we do not want. I am amazed at some of the narration and the stereotyping this does of the Indian doctors and medical system.

The blog has a semi mad sardarji (sikh) as a doctor who speaks and understands no English, laughs at his own jokes in Hindi and does not understand the difference between a mole and a pimple. The doctor has never heard of the United States and knows America, a country whose citizens are rich and ripe for fleecing. The doctor prescribes lotions and creams for treating the mole, which are not available at his own pharmacy and the patient (the author) walks out, having parted with Rs. 500 and nothing to show for it. Astoundingly, this gentleman returns to the clinic of the mad sardarji, encounters a ‘wildeyed’ patient on a wheelchair, and asks the doctor to burn off the offending mole in the emergency room next door.

Can you really believe this? A dermatologist who knows no English, does not know what the US is, prescribes lotions for treating moles and does strange surgery in his ER. All this in Delhi.  To me this sounds stranger than fiction.

One can not study medicine in India unless one knows English as the language of instruction in medical schools across the country is English. I refuse to believe that there exists a dermatologist, who can’t differentiate between a pimple and a mole and if I ever encountered, will I let him treat me not once but twice!  Come to think of it, will I let someone operate on me if their was a serious language barrier, when I am not sure if the doctor/surgeon understands the problem. If I agree to all this, than it is me who is playing with fire and taking completely unacceptable risks.

I am willing to grant that the author might have been lured to a quack’s place by someone. However, his complete gullibility and his willingness to try out this kind of treatment, which one would instinctively recoil from appears to be a product of his imagination. This as I said earlier only reinforces Indian stereotypes of a land of great mystery, faith healing, strange medical practices and half crazy doctors.

I am sure this makes for great reading back home.

However, what it also does is that it mocks at the great advances India has made in medicine. It paints a very distorted picture of Indian healthcare. India has some of the most modern hospitals and qualified medical personnel, which attract thousands of foreign patients every year. While, there is no denying that there are quacks and the like who exist, not going to a qualified dermatologist for the removal of a mole and continuing with the treatment of a doctor/quack who does not understand ones language will be considered foolhardy anywhere in the world.

Let us have none of this kind of crap.

Pic courtesy

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