I am Raghavi R. K., Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Languages at VIT-AP University, India. I often doodle as a pastime and draw short comics as a creative means to make sense of the world around me. Somehow seeing things mapped out on a paper enables me to process information in a better way.
During the recent nation-wide lockdown, I started drawing to keep myself occupied, but on April 2nd, 2020, everything changed drastically for it was the first day I heard reports about violence against doctors and other frontline healthcare workers who were struggling to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Later that week, there was a surge in the number of uncivil acts against doctors, and it grew to a point where the government of India had to introduce new laws to ensure the safety of healthcare workers.
Unfortunately, such disheartening incidents of violence against healthcare professionals are happening across the globe (see below the links to news articles on the same). When I sat down to draw these incidents, I was muddled by countless questions such as why is violence against doctors prevalent in India?, why did healthcare workers become targets of fear and stigma during this pandemic across the globe?, how can doctors practice radical listening or empathy when there is a general lack of civility towards them? and many more. I still haven’t found concrete answers to several of those puzzling questions.
Essentially, COVID-19 has explicitly showcased a growing disconnect between the common person and healthcare providers. When mutual respect is lost, listening is nearly impossible for both doctors and patients. Worse still, we might begin to listen, not to understand each other but to reinforce our individual perspectives.
Being a health humanities/graphic medicine enthusiast for almost seven years, and listening to my extended family members’ [many of them doctors and medical interns] experiences of working in COVID-19 wards have made me realize the importance the narrative medicine and graphic medicine to help people process their harrowing experiences. At the same time, I do believe that we need to practice civility in order to listen. And, this comics is a snippet from an on-going graphic medicine project on my experience of COVID-19. I would really appreciate it, if members of graphic medicine community share their thoughts on these pertinent and topical issues after reading this comic. (Click image to enlarge.)
Many thanks to Dr. R.S. Suresh Kumar, Assistant Professor of Forensic Toxicology in the Department of Chemistry at Arba Minch University, Ethiopia for collaborating with me and helping me tell this narrative.
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Link to Newspaper Articles on Violence against Doctors: