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Medical Professionals and Journalists: Friends or Foe?

Submitted by on November 2, 2014 – 8:41 PM

imagesIn this present age, medical profession and journalism are the two most important and most prestigious professions in the world. Yet they are like arch rivals in most parts of the world. At least that’s how I see the situation in my native country Bangladesh, where doctors and journalists consider each other as birth enemies.Patient dies due to ‘wrong treatment’ – a common headline of print media.


But even a semi-educated man can understand that the line should instead be ‘Patient dies: The relatives complained of wrong treatment’. How come a person who has little/no knowledge about medical science judge what is right/wrong treatment? What is the difference between him/her and a quack?In most of the cases, when doctors are being assaulted physically, the print media and the electronic media cleverly sweep that away and highlight the misery of the patients due to strikes.


But during strikes emergency services, indoor medical services and emergency surgeries are still performed. This isn’t highlighted with an intention to make the doctors villains in the eyes of public. On the other hand, rarely do they highlight the success of physicians in their respective fields.Sometimes we can see fabricated news against the health care personals which have no grounds.In some of the cases, angry doctors assault journalists in the hospital.


All of these activities should be condemned. Medics and journalists are part and parcel of the society. They cannot ignore each other.Media can help medics in different ways. It can contribute in the development of the health care system of a country. Let me give some examples. The success of immunization programs in Bangladesh was due to the awareness of the mass population and media played an important role here.


Recently physicians of Bangladesh successfully transplanted bone marrow for the first time in the country’s history. It was highly appreciated and received media coverage. These are some of the examples of how media can help the medics.Yellow journalism against the doctors should strictly be prohibited. Any allegations against the doctors should not be published in such a way to divert the views of the public. Positive news should be broadcasted to inspire the medics.


Of course any crime/corruption which is committed by the medics should be brought to light by the media.On the other hand, medics should also play an important role to reduce the communication gap. There should be a media center in every tertiary care hospital. There should also be a specific code of conduct for journalists to enter in the hospital. The attempt to enter in highly sensitive places like Operation Theater or Intensive Care Unit using the identity of ‘Journalist’ should strictly be prohibited.


A journalist should know and respect privacy of a patient.In this era of internet, anyone can become a journalist by opening some news websites. But only a few know the true way of journalism. Medical journalism should be encouraged. Doctors and medical students should be encouraged to involve themselves in medical journalism as they know the true meaning of ‘Health’. It is easier for them to explain diseases to the common people than the non-medical personnel.


For this the medics need to be able to write well in a way that is clear and palatable to the general people. By writing and submitting articles to different international medical journals they can develop their skills.In the end, what I can say is that doctors and journalists cannot ignore each other. On the other hand neither doctors nor the journalists can be ignored by the society. So both should help and respect each other’s profession and work for the betterment of humanity.


About the Author: Rajat Das Gupta is an intern at Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. He can be reached at [email protected]

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2014.

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