Vijay TV 'Neeya Naana' raises controversy between doctors and patients
A Tamil TV channel has invited the wrath of doctors across the state through a talk show that focused on unethical medical practices.
Several associations of doctors have held demonstrations this week and raised slogans criticising the show for what they construe as misinformation on health issues and public health programmes offered by the government of Tamil Nadu.
On Sunday, Vijay TV telecast the show 'Neeya Naana' on the subject, 'doctors vs public' in which members of the public narrated their experiences and criticised doctors for prescribing unnecessary treatment and tests. Since the telecast, doctor associations have been organising a series of protests accusing the anchor and the channel of distorting facts about diagnosis and procedures such as ultrasound scans for pregnant women. They have accused the channel of editing out parts to make the programme one-sided. One of the participants on the show is shown saying a child known to her has no hair because of the repeated scans the mother had to go through during pregnancy.
On Monday, the Intern and Post-graduate Association of Tamil Nadu filed a complaint with police, seeking action against the programme co-ordinators and urging it to stop re-telecast of the show. The complaint said, "There is no scientific evidence to this. Tamil Nadu government offers three free scans to pregnant women in an attempt to reduce mortality rates. It is an essential test which has brought down the incidence of maternal mortality. But this show has caused confusion among people. It will put children and women at risk."
Six doctors who signed the complaint also said that master health check-ups are preventive measures offered under the Tamil Nadu Health Systems project for prevention of diseases such as cervical cancer, breast cancer, blood pressure, and heart diseases.
"Some valid points were raised (on the show), but they were never discussed in detail. Members of the public gave wrong information, and it was aired. Some valid points raised by doctors were edited out. This can be extremely dangerous. It will damage the crucial doctor-patient relationship and can cause serious law and order problems," said Dr G Suresh, one of the signatories.
Gopinath, the talk show host, and Antony, the director, could not be reached for comment. However, healthcare activists and a section of doctors pointed out that the basic issue of corruption and unethical practices in medicine was increasingly relevant.
In the face of evidence of doctors receiving commissions and cuts for referrals and for prescribing unnecessary investigations, health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had recently promised he would refer the matter to the ethics committee of the Medical Council of India - ironically, a body he had himself referred to as "a big source of corruption."
Meantime, the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council has initiated an inquiry. "We are talking to our members who participated in the programme. Our decision will be based on the results of this inquiry," said its president V S Dorairaj.