GMOA: No cheers for drunkard-patient policy

By Mirudhula Thambiah

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) yesterday rejected a government proposal to charge money in state hospitals from patients seeking treatment for alcohol related diseases saying the move was ‘unethical’.

GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. S. Sivapriyan said the move was in breach of the free health services in the country. “If the government wants to charge patients with alcohol-related diseases then what would it do for patients with sexually-transmitted diseases? Both are diseases of severity. Not only alcohol, even smoking cigarettes will cause dangerous diseases,” he said.

Dr. Sivapriyan said the GMOA believed that the government’s idea was to start charging for patients with alcoholic diseases, and then to move on to other areas such as smoking.

He said the GMOA had questions as to how the government could implement this proposal since it would be unethical for a doctor to refuse to treat a patient if he or she could not pay for the treatment. The doctors would also face a major problem in diagnosing whether the disease was alcohol-related or not, he said.

The GMOA official said since the alcohol-disease-related patient would have to pay, he might get the treatment and leave the hospital without paying. This would require extra security measures by hospital authorities.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry is yet to issue a circular on the proposal which is expected to come into effect in February.

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