Now Housing Societies Are Asking Doctors to Look for Accommodation Elsewhere. Where Will They Go?


Now Housing Societies Are Asking Doctors to Look for Accommodation Elsewhere. Where Will They Go?

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

As India continues to grapple with the pandemic, we have been reminded time and again that our doctors and medical professionals, the frontline warriors in this battle, are our only hope against the novel coronavirus. The Centre chose to celebrate their contribution to the fight against Covid-19 by having the military shower them with rose petals from helicopters, as jets flew overhead during the lockdown last Sunday, May 3. Despite this flamboyant pageantry, the situation on the ground for doctors, nurses, and medical staff remains difficult. An ordinance was passed to protect healthcare workers in April and though the attacks have stopped, the discrimination by neighbours continues.

A doctor in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad shared a photo of a circular from the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) of her housing society, which stated that all doctors and medical professionals working to contain the coronavirus in Delhi would have to find temporary accommodation in the city, and not return to the housing society while lockdown was in effect. This sort of bias affects doctors much more directly than any rose petal showering stunt encourages them to pursue their duty.

The housing society cited an official letter from the local municipal body as the basis for its decision to ask doctors to stay away from their homes. However, much like the municipal body, it appears the RWA hasn’t considered where or how these doctors will make alternate living arrangements while the entire country is under a lockdown. Photos of the letter were shared on social media, along with the RWA’s circular banning the doctors entry into their own homes.

Such an insensitive move – one of many being taken by the authorities during the pandemic – came under fire on social media. People called it out for being inconsiderate toward the many personal sacrifices medical professionals are already making to ensure the public’s health during the pandemic.

Eventually, the clamour of social media could have been said to have had an effect on the RWA in question. In an update, the doctor shared that the RWA had retracted their order. However, they callously referred to their unethical decision to ban doctors entry as a mere “mistake”.

Even though the RWA in Ghaziabad retracted its order, it was far from the only such case in the country. In Nashik, a doctor learned that he had become positive for the coronavirus. He was advised home isolation. However, his neighbours, upon learning of the infection, denied him entry to his flat.

The doctor, Sanjay Gangurde, posted a video to social media. The saddest part of his narration is where he says he feels healthy despite testing positive, but the way his neighbours turned their backs on him hurts much more.

These two incidents are just the latest evidence that there are some people who are happy to render lip-service to the idea of doctors being “corona warriors”, only to betray that statement when it comes time to behave empathetically toward them in person.