Thiruvananthapuram: If anyone is desperate for a bottle during lockdown, the Excise Department has asked him to secure an 'alcohol withdrawal syndrome' certificate from a government doctor and submit it to the nearest excise range office. But Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday hinted that the government was still not sure what to do with alcohol addicts.
The strident opposition of doctors seems to have put the government on the back foot. Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA), whose members were supposed to give out what has now been called the 'withdrawal certificate', had called the move a "medical blunder."
The KGMOA has also decided to observe April 1 as 'black day' in protest against the Excise order, issued on March 30.
The medical fraternity also fears that there would be a huge rush of alcoholics to meet doctors in primary health centres, taluk hospitals and general hospitals. "If a doctor refuses to give the certificate, there is a chance of him getting thrashed. Will the government assure the safety of doctors," a prominent member of KGMOA told Onmanorama.
"Moreover, is this the time for doctors to sign certificates for tipplers when a contagion is spreading wildly," he added. The KGMOA has also told the government that such a move, by bringing a crowd of drinkers to already overcrowded hospitals, would also go against social distancing norms that are now in force.
Pinarayi Vijayan was silent about the issue during his address to the media on Tuesday. He responded only when he was asked about the bitter opposition of doctors to the proposal. "No one has asked them to provide any certificate," the chief minister said.
He even seemed to have veered around to the doctor's view that addiction should be treated and not indulged. "I think by now many who had alcohol addiction would have come to terms with the situation," he said. "This would have even changed the atmosphere in homes. I would suggest that these people, with the support of their family members, should contact the nearest Vimukti Centre and get treatment. It would be advisable to kick the habit this way," the chief minister said.