The money-making approach to healthcare taken by a section of medical professionals and institutions has been called out by Divya Sathyaraj, well-known nutritionist, activist and daughter of actor Sathyaraj.
Recounting the experience of one of her patients at a private hospital, Divya said, "I was shocked to hear that a general physician at a leading hospital in Chennai charged my patient, a construction labourer, Rs. 5100 for a three-minute consultation for her 7-year-old child. Has money overtaken humanity?"
Pointing out that this was not an isolated case, she alleged that some hospitals, doctors and pharmacies were making a fortune out of common people by overcharging and selling expired medicines.
"I have a lot of respect for doctors and the majority are dedicating their heart and soul to this profession; but doctors like this can create a bad impression about the entire private sector," she said, adding, "Private hospitals should take steps to prevent this."
Noting that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M K Stalin, had done amazing work during the COVID-19 outbreak to help the poor, and people like the state health secretary Dr. J. Radhakrishnan were doing great work to make sure that government hospitals are functioning efficiently, Divya however stressed that government has limitations. "On the other hand, issues like this are happening in the private sector, which is very sad," she added.
"I meet a lot of people from all walks of life during my practice and sometimes I recommend a medical doctor to them, as we nutritionists are a complimentary section of the medical sector. I know a quite number of them are more afraid of medical bills than the illness. This has to change. We desperately need a system that brings hope and healing to people from the lower-income groups. Health is your right, don't give up your fight, " she asserted.
It may be recalled that, a few years ago, Divya, who has always been vocal about social issues, had written to the Prime Minister about malpractices in the medical and pharmaceutical fields and the letter had gone viral.