N Touch
Monday 27 January 2020
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Whose shame?

FUAD KHAN should be ashamed. As a doctor – and a former minister of health no less – he should know better. A doctor’s job is to examine, diagnose and treat patients. It’s not to shame them as he has body-shamed Candice Santana. This is unprofessional behaviour at its worst. Khan purports to worry about Santana setting a bad example for children. But it is he who has been ugly.

Without even asking Santana a single question, without seeking to engage her or ascertain her medical history, without attempting to understand her mental state of mind or what she sought to achieve by playing mas, without even bothering to show an iota of care for her, Khan took to Facebook to excoriate, denigrate.

“Just shut up,” the MP for Barataria/San Juan told Santana in his Facebook video. “No self-control.” But if there is anyone who has shown a lack of self-control it is he. Rather than embracing Santana and using her as an agent of change, Khan issued childish insults.

“If you want to do yourself that stupidness go ahead,” he said. “Walk around the place like a tub.”

This kind of behaviour does little to cure the already chronic failings in the public healthcare system.

Every day, thousands are treated by doctors who, unable to discipline their prejudices, misdiagnose, neglect and are reckless with the well-being of patients whom they judge to be their inferior. It’s a serious problem when poor people, people with HIV/Aids, differently-abled people, or people from minorities feel they will be mistreated by medical officials, whether grumpy clerks, churlish doctors or angry nurses.

With his barbaric attack against a person he himself judges to be in need of help, Khan has given licence for the continuation of this kind of abuse. The case of the late Gavin Ramdial, whose treatment at the St James Infirmary was delayed because of his weight, is not forgotten.

A truly competent doctor will know that when it comes to prognosis, the first, most important factor is often the mindset of the patient. If the patient is afraid to leave the house for fear of being judged, how will she be encouraged to access the very treatment that Khan prescribes? If the patient is filled with negativity and shame and has no hope, how is she to maintain the regime prescribed?

Santana has a right to speak up and speak out. And she has more than a right to be proud of her body and her beauty. Her gender is also instructive. Would Khan have attacked her thus if she had been a man? The doctor may feel he’s serving a dose of bitter medicine. But he’s actually served a double dose of hypocrisy. Shame.

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