Casteism among doctors: Expert says Indian medical system not equipped to address issue
The number of suicides by NEET aspirants and medical students from marginalised communities who were victims of alleged bullying because of their caste has brought into focus the unaddressed issue of caste in the Indian medical system, Dr Purohit said.
Pune: The existing health service system in India is not at all equipped to addressing the casteism among doctors and other healthcare sevice providers, said an expert on Wednesday.
Talking to UNI here on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development, Dr Naresh Purohit, executive member of the Indian Medical Academy for Preventive Health, said that birth seems to determine health, education, employment, social and economic outcomes.
In India caste plays out a significant role, just as race plays out in the United States and the social class in Britain, he noted.
He said that the caste system, which categories people into four main groups according to the family they are born in to, is comparable to the racist structures that fuelled apartheid in South Africa or segregation policies in America prior to the civil rights movement.
The caste system may seem like a relic from a bygone era – something which should have disappeared as the country modernised and society became less feudal – but it continues to inflict violence on individuals even today, he said.
This is quite evident from the rise in the number of suicides by NEET aspirants and medical students from marginalised communities who were victims of alleged bullying because of their caste, he pointed and said this has brought into focus the unaddressed issue of caste in the Indian medical system.
Pointing that the caste-based differentiation is directly related to the socio-economic and socio-cultural status of an individual, he said in an attempt to stimulate social mobility, India has in place a system of educational and job reservation to ensure low-caste groups are represented in universities and government institutions.
However, it is still unclear whether this policy is doing enough to remove caste boundaries if the message is not getting through at the ground level, he said.
To address the issue, Dr Purohit suggested that making policies that ensures adequate representation for members of excluded communities in healthcare can certainly reduce the cultural discrimination and prejudice.
Another important option could be increasing the number of dalits at different levels of the healthcare sector, he added.