Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Opinion Talking Point

John Launer: Doctors as activists

BMJ 2024; 385 doi: (Published 24 April 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;385:q939

Rapid Response:

Doctors as activists : Why not?

Dear Editor,

My letter, to you, refers to John Launer’s article titled “Doctors as activists” in the BMJ. To me, in a way it gives out the current state of affairs and implies that by the rules in force, wherein just because a person happens to be a doctor, he or she cannot be an activist. Pardon me, for I may be totally wrong in my interpretation, but is there any such gag order for any other professionals from any other field besides medicine, or for a common man who lives and is domiciled in a democratic country such as yours?

Aren’t doctors well educated, well aware, coming from the same society, well intentioned, and nearly as well intelligent to know/ realize/ guess what’s wrong and what needs attention by the law makers, and the law implementers, to set things right? Why be choosy and decide not to hear good counsel for the society, county, or the country, if that’s coming from a doctor? Are there any genuine reasons for concern, or is that purely a bias of sorts? Talking now for the environment is not considered wrong anymore, and so everyone else can, but not a doctor. Is that it? And then, there is this other point of being hanged twice for the same cause, one by the country’s law, and for the second time by terminating their medical licence. Why punish a doctor twice for the same “offence”, if that’s the interpretation of his / her act?

Not so long ago, the Berlin Wall was demolished. I certainly do not like to meddle in your country’s affairs, but I wonder if it isn’t time that such gag orders and constraints against activism by doctors be removed. Who gets to decide it? When? Your legal text and judgements have a sway over the whole world. I can only make a request and that would be to be a little more considerate in such matters for doctors as well, and equal justice may be allowed to prevail, please.

Best regards.

Dr (Lieutenant Colonel) Rajesh Chauhan

MBBS (AFMC, Pune), Master in Medicine in Family Medicine (from CMC Vellore), Post Graduate Diploma in Geriatric Medicine (from the study centre at Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi), Associate Fellow in Industrial Health (from RLI, FASLI, Govt of India), Diploma in Family Medicine (PGIM Colombo, through IMA), Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster Management, Fellow of the Indian Society of Geriatricians of India, Fellow of the Indian Society of Malaria & other Communicable Diseases (FISCD), Fellow of the College of General Practitioners of India (FCGP), Advance Diploma in Hospital Administration (ADHA), Diploma in Nutrition, & LLB (Bachelor of Law / Legum Baccalaureus)

Competing interests: No competing interests

08 May 2024
Dr (Lieutenant Colonel) Rajesh Chauhan
Consultant Geriatric Medicine, Family Medicine, Disaster Management, Hospital Administration, & Industrial Health
Family Healthcare Centre, Mhow, Indore, INDIA.
Family Healthcare Centre Ashapurna Sadan, 1203/1 Gawli Palasiya, Near Parsi Tekri, Mandaleshwar Road, Mhow, INDORE - 453441 INDIA.