Mumbai-based organisation to train docs to better serve LGBT patients

The group called Health Professionals for Queer Indians (HPQI), aims to sensitise medical students so they can cater to needs to the community better.

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2018 00:13 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,LGBT,Mental health
A doctor found that LGBT patients have a hard time communicating their problems to doctors.(HT PHOTO)

A new city-based organisation is training doctors, especially mental health professionals, to understand the health needs of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

The group called Health Professionals for Queer Indians (HPQI), which launched last month also aims to sensitise medical students so they can cater to needs to the community better when they start their practice.

“Health care workers — doctors, nurses are not trained as a part of their curriculum to understand the needs of LGBT patients and patients too don’t reveal about their sexuality as they are unsure of how the doctor would take it,” said Dr Prasad Dandekar, head, radiation oncology, Sir HN Reliance Hospital, who founded the organisation along with another doctor.

In a qualitative study by Dr Prasad, where they interviewed 10 individuals from the LGBT community, he found that health care professionals turn down LGBT patients, saying they don’t have enough knowledge about their problems or misdirect them.

“We lack data on social and physical health problems of LGBT community. One thing that stood out from my study was that LGBT patients have a hard time communicating their problems to doctors,” Dr Prasad said.

A 39-year-old man from Powai, who struggled to accept his sexuality through his late teens, attended the launch of HPQI and said he had visited a local psychiatrist with complaints of feeling anxious, but had been misdirected by them.

“When I told him that I was gay, the doctor advised me to ‘suppress’ it given the Indian social scenario,” he said.

While HPQI organised a conference along with Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) at the civic-run BYL Nair Hospital, Mumbai Central, on March 10, they are looking to conduct programmes at other medical teaching colleges in the future.

Dr Kersi Chavda, who heads the task force set up by the IPS to understand the emotional needs of members of the LGBT community, said there is a need for health care professionals to be more forthcoming to help LGBT needs. “The idea is to comprise a group of all professionals who are gay-friendly and help and treat them without discrimination,” he said.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 00:13 IST