New Delhi: In what comes to be a shocking revelation, India’s leading Super Speciality hospital has been allegedly involved in trafficking of doctors. A group of Indian doctors have alleged that their passports were snatched and salaries were also denied by the hospital authorities.
The Indian doctors were hired on a contractual basis by the hospital authorities to operate at their facility in Nigeria’s capital Abuja. The doctors were promised salaries and perks in accordance to their contract that was signed in India.
One of the doctors, Rajiv Sharma, signed a two-year contract with the hospital in Nigeria – a branch of the Indian Super Speciality hospital in New Delhi - in February 2012, and joined work in March 2012. But, he resigned in September 2012, citing his ordeal at the hands of hospital authorities.
When asked about his resignation, Dr Sharma said, “The management of the hospital took away my passports, a few days after we landed in Abuja, which was never returned.” In his resignation letter, he said, “The salary is not even paid….I have been recruited into modern slavery.”
While going through his ordeal, Dr Sharma said, “When I tried to complain against the dictating management to higher authorities, they started threatening me with dire consequences.” “In fact, the complaint to the Indian High Commissioner in Nigeria Mr. Mahesh Sachdev came no good, as he advised us to take our complaint back,” he added.
Dr Sharma, while recalling his meeting with the Indian High Commissioner, said: “I was shocked to see the attitude of the respected commissioner after he said that it’s very normal in Nigeria. He told us that it was Nigeria and not Switzerland, where things would work in your favour.”
With no option at their disposal, Dr Sharma alongside another colleague approached the federal court in Nigeria and sought help from the Ministry of External Affairs in India, alleging their employers have confiscated their passports and denied them three months’ salary.
The hospital authorities have admitted that the doctors’ passports had been kept at the time they joined for safety purposes, but denied any wrongdoings. They also confirmed that they have received a show-cause notice issued by the Nigerian court.
“We take the passports of employees as a routine safety measure, since the hospital facilitates their visa applications and immigration. We are responsible for them here..." chairperson of the Indian Super Speciality hospital, Achla Dewan, was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
Dr Sharma claims that the hospital authorities in Nigeria – operating under the command of the chairperson – have been threatening doctors of dire consequences if they speak about the issue to anyone. “The doctors were also pressurized to over-charge the patients in Nigeria in order to benefit the hospital,” he added.
A similar case was reported by the Nigerian media last year, when a female patient was charged for her Fibroid operation at the same hospital. The reports suggest that the doctors did not remove the Fibroid from her body but charged her for the same. She finally realized of the wrongdoing after getting herself looked up at another hospital.
When asked about this case, Dr Sharma revealed that the doctors are not the problem there; it’s the hospital authorities that govern their practice. He said that the doctors are just trying to survive the ordeal at the hands of the hospital authorities.
Dr Sharma, hopeful of justice, said: “The Indian Super Speciality hospital is trafficking doctors to Nigeria. They are luring the doctors into their high-end nexus in order to serve their own purpose. I just want to put an end to the horrific ordeals being faced by the doctors.”
The Ministry of External Affairs is reportedly trying to follow the case in Abuja but there was no official comment from their side.
(The name of doctor mentioned above has been changed on request)