Nowadays we see people using social and local media to whine on the so called “malpractice” of healthcare professionals, especially doctors.
In Kinyarwanda though, we don’t have exact translations for different personnel working at the hospital.
Whether you are a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist or just a cashier in a white coat, you are being called “Muganga” (doctor).
To clear the confusion, which may arise from our declining language proficiency, in this piece, doctor means a physician although bad publicity ruins the reputation of other healthcare professionals.
Seeking care from doctors requires sharing of information that one might be uncomfortable sharing with an inconu.
A healthy relationship between a patient and a doctor as well as trust is crucial for appropriate management.
If you can do a simple informal survey and ask people about their views regarding doctors, a considerable number will tell you that they are incompetent, non-caring, getting too much salary, horrible stuff, so on and so forth.
Yet only less than 1% of the population might have suffered at the hands of a doctor.
So, the other day a twitter troll said that doctors are horrible.
That kind of publicity should stop.
It doesn’t help the patients nor the doctor.
If you plan to spread it, think twice before you do.
Before this blasphemy
Medicine used to be a respected and noble profession known for empathy, caring and sickness relief.
Rwandans used to say “Imbabazi ziba kwa muganga” somehow meaning that caring exists at the hospital.
Even when we were kids, we wanted to be doctors not just to have a career but because of this noble calling of serving others.
But nowadays, we hear the public anger on social and local media denouncing doctors of their misconduct.
Note that death was unavoidable from day one of human existence.
It is still inescapable and for sure will always be.
The doctors’ job is to fight nature and prevent death whenever possible.
For sure everybody who dies at the hospital, it isn’t the fault of the doctor.
One should tweet this too
Some doctors go out of their way to help patients to clear their medical bills.
I remember a story of my friends who used to go to a lunch break just to bring their food to poor patients.
Some specialists offer free consultation.
Others have acquired HIV and other diseases while treating patients, but guess what?
They make all those sacrifices, but a twitter bot will attack the whole profession and brand every doctor inhumane.
A talented, well-educated doctor performs thousands of successful surgeries and no one gives a f**k.
Every day is not a Sunday, they say.
One day, a patient dies.
Everyone will know it via social media and blame the doctor.
Do they care to dig deep, understand and analyze how an incidence happened? Nah!
Worldwide, over the years, people have created an impression that doctors should be selfless, sacrificing their lives for ours, and just living a life of saints.
When a patient experiences the opposite, they can’t understand it.
But doctors are human beings. They are not immune to mistakes or errors.
Bad publicity helps no one
Surely, internet, TV and radios have played a biggest role in increasing hate and mistrust of people toward doctors.
False news, one sided stories, magnified errors, and blames, are increasing the mistrust of people to their healthcare professionals.
A mistake by a doctor is magnified, talked over and over again and this increase people’s perceptions towards all doctors.
Doctors are not saints. There will always be some rotten apples.
Doctors are not saints. Some doctors are involved in illegal and unethical practices such as unsafe abortion and have definitively tarnished the image of the profession.
Commercialization in the healthcare system has increased the mistrust.
No one can trust someone charging him/her expensively in her/his bad moment.
But doctors don’t get all the money you pay.
Sometime that money is used to pay for expensive medicine and other materials used during your treatment.
In the end!
Just because doctors deal with sickness and health doesn’t mean they sacrifice everything and live like prophets and saints.
Just because someone dies at the doorstep of the hospital does not mean that the doctor was negligent.
Just because an apple is rotten (and will always be), doesn’t give you the right to generalize the profession.
Had the media (and people on Twitter of course) wanted to contribute positively to improve healthcare, they would stop such bad publicity because no one benefits from it.
About the Writer
Muzungu Hirwa Sylvain is a finalist in medicine at the University of Rwanda. Aspiring public health leader and human rights activist. Keen interest in innovation and entrepreneurship. Member of Global Shapers, Kigali Hub. All views expressed are his.