Medics screen patients as part of a precautionary measure against novel coronavirus | Representational image | PTI Photo
Medics screen patients as part of a precautionary measure against novel coronavirus | Representational image | PTI
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New Delhi: Two doctors who took to social media to complain about a shortage of medical equipment, including protective face masks, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis have been at the receiving end of Twitter hate, and even accused of being anti-government.

Dr Kamna Kakkar and Dr Vasundhara Sangwan, who are attached to different hospitals in different states, had posted about a lack of essential medical supplies earlier this week and urged authorities to address the issue.

The tweets, posted a day apart, irked some Twitter users, while others dismissed them as fake.

The controversy comes at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on people to applaud those on the forefront battling the novel coronavirus — mainly medical personnel and others providing essential services.


Also read: Need more masks, sanitisers — doctors say hospitals ill-equipped to fight COVID-19


‘Fake account’

Dr Kamna Kakkar began posting on 23 March (Monday), raising the issue of a shortage of face masks. She claimed no arrangements were being made to ensure availability of these essential items in the hospital.

“When masks and other security equipment finally arrive, please bring them to my grave,” read one of the tweets.

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Dr Kakkar works with the Department of Anaesthesia at PGI Rohtak in Haryana.

Her Twitter feed garnered quite a following, including among the medical community which retweeted her. One of her tweets was also retweeted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Screenshot of Dr Kakkar's tweet that was retweeted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Screenshot of Dr Kakkar’s tweet that was retweeted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Screenshot of Dr Kakkar's tweet.
Screenshot of Dr Kakkar’s tweet.

However, claims that the account is fake soon started doing the rounds.

When ThePrint reached out to her, Dr Kakkar confirmed she had posted the tweets, but added she did not want to sensationalise the issue. She said her intention was to draw the local and central governments’ attention to the shortage of essential medical facilities.

She also clarified that she is not associated with any party and/or organisation.

“I am very serious about my work and my profession. I am equally concerned about health and well-being of fellow doctors who are serving the common people,” she said, adding she has been a practising medical professional for around nine years now.

The account was deactivated by Tuesday, but not before an apology was posted for the previous tweets. The post said Dr Kakkar had no information about the availability of the masks.

The nodal officer for control and management of the Covid-19 pandemic at PGIMS Rohtak clarified there was no shortage of essential medical equipment or protective gear, according to a news report.

‘It was my brother’

A day after Dr Kakkar tweeted, another account under the name of Dr Vasundhara Sangwan began posting about the lack of masks. According to the user’s Twitter bio, Dr Sangwan is studying for her Masters in Medicine in Jaipur.

Dr Sangwan’s tweets also quickly gained traction, following which the user posted another tweet that clarified the doctor had no political affiliations.

Screenshot of Dr Sangwan's tweet
Screenshot of Dr Sangwan’s tweet
Screenshot of Dr Sangwan's tweet
Screenshot of Dr Sangwan’s tweet

When ThePrint spoke to Dr Sangwan, she said it wasn’t her who tweeted but added that the information was true.

“Those who are calling me fake are completely wrong. I had talked about my working conditions, images and current atmosphere in my family’s WhatsApp group. My brother took some information from that chat and shared it on Twitter to create more awareness among the people. My brother had also changed his Twitter ID with my name,” she said.

These tweets have since been deleted.

Dr Sangwan said the posts had garnered so much negative response that her brother deleted them. He was hoping people would take the issue seriously but instead got trolled, she added. Both the doctor’s parents are in government service.


Also read: Not masks or gloves, this is the best way to avoid coronavirus, says airline doctor


Doctors being ostracised 

There have been reports of people misbehaving with doctors and harassing them since their chances of being exposed to the virus are higher.

Colony members and landlords have allegedly been forcing people from the medical community to vacate their homes.

Doctors have also been struggling for meals since several hospital canteens have closed down as part of the lockdown measures.

The Association of Resident Doctors from AIIMS had written to Home Minister Amit Shah, who later issued an order to take tough action against those harassing medical personnel.


Also read: 15-hour shifts, no sleep or water: India’s resident doctors cry ‘I Am Overworked’


 

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8 Comments Share Your Views

8 COMMENTS

  1. Disgusting characters from BJP IT cell … what do you expect? Look the at comment above … most of these characters have never done anything good in their lives … pathetic low lives. My wife is a doctor and my family is full of doctors… and there are no PPEs … that is a fact.

    • Rajesh – that’s the sad truth. The bhakts are the modern-day incarnation of the “brown-shirts”. Respects to the doctors in your family. Please tell them that the bhakts might have the loudest voice in social media but a silent majority appreciates the selfless sacrifice of the doctors.

  2. Doctors should take the formal route to register their problems. Doctors using social media in current times is insane and nothing but politics. Such doctors are bound to earn peoples rebuke.

    • Did you get your payment for today, you IT fell cookie? Doctors when they don’t have PPEs can post their concerns anywhere … got it? You and your father don’t need to approve of which channels doctors need to post their concerns.

      • Shut up before talking about ethics. When someone uses his/her profession to peddle political agenda he/she must be stigmatized. I am a doctor myself who is checking out this post after a 10 hour shift in a hospital in Kolkata. Our system has many shortcomings and we address that by rasing our grievances to proper channels not in social media at a time of crisis to politicise. There is a shortage of PPE and it is being addressed. Perhaps we could have done better but then again it must be noted that PPE are not stockpiled unnecessarily and supply chain of such materials were severely impacted due to Hubei Lockdown. To conclude my points, these two doctors behaved unethically in the first place.

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