Online Program

Hope Doctors

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.

Diya Banerjee, Independent, Gurgaon, India
The film is a bittersweet journey into the lives of ordinary people & their extraordinary worlds. Told through the lens of medical clowning, the film questions the gaps plaguing our healthcare sector while also interpolating the complex worlds of two clowns. Through their artistic & intimate life experiences, these clowns stand out as non-conformists who firmly believe in pursuing untainted optimism. Using theatre as psychosocial counselling strategies they reach out to those stuck in difficult medical scenarios. Will their unconventional approach to patient support appeal to the medical fraternity? It talks of how hope and compassion are an integral part of healing and healthcare thus the narrative topography will present the contrast between harsh ground realities and the poetic freedom that the clown brings when he enters the life of a young cancer patient. The film will show a different aspect to cancer-care while challenging the stereotypical image of the cancer patient that of a disempowered person with his/her head shaved. When we battle diseases or life-altering incidents at hospitals we are seldom empowered with the coping mechanisms. Often, the disease or the condition is the first priority for doctors and little or no time is spent on counselling the patient who is in distress. The film tries to address this issue through the lens of clowning. The clown doctor is not a loud, bumbling person but rather a person who listens and becomes the friend of the patient. He is not worried about the applause or the cheer but is more worried about the patient and pulling him or her out of their sense of misery. Clown doctors work in tandem with the hospital staff understanding the needs of the patient and also their condition. These are artistes trained to deal with emergency situations and conditions that need high level of skill and sensitivity. In many parts of the world, namely USA, New Zealand, Canada, and Israel, Clown doctors have been around and have become fairly popular. But in India they are hardly known. We still have a long way to go to transform our mainstream healthcare spaces and enthuse it with compassion and joy. In fact, currently the tide is towards excessive commercialisation of healthcare where patient is seen as a customer rather than a care-seeker.

These are artistes who use humour as a tool to tide over many complex health issues. It has been scientifically proven that laughter enables a patient to cope with pain. It dispels negative emotions such as anger, loneliness and trauma, hastens the body’s recovery process, reduces stress hormones, improves immunity, increases blood oxygenation and also leads to many other psychological benefits. The film argues that healthcare cannot be divorced from emotions like love and compassion. However, to re-introduce compassion in healthcare it is impractical to pressurise doctors to ‘act in a certain way’. Instead, the film argues, that this space must be opened for medically-trained clowns who act as agents of change in humanising healthcare. However, these clowns are allowed to be in only certain kind of spaces namely: interacting with young patients and very old patients. Through their astute understanding and observation, the clowns aim at transforming the negative into a positive. They correct the balance of power in doctor-patient relationships and also help patients feel empowered. Shot in an observational style where the stories of these protagonists – cancer-patient, medical clown, doctor and the family-members—emerge seamlessly. Through their interpretations of their circumstances, the film takes us on a journey of self-awareness. Each one of us crave a healing space where we are allowed to express and confront our fears and tackle them holistically through care, love and counselling. It is a film that puts this view strongly.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the need for compassionate healthcare wherein there's a deeper connect with patient's and their disease. This is demonstrated in the interview of Dr Rachna Seth who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Pediatric 0ncology at AIIMS (India's premier government hospital).

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a film & media practitioner for nearly 10 years. This is my first documentary film on the issue of compassionate healthcare. Previously, I have worked as a TV producer and as a journalist in India and have worked in the field of communications and film(s) for various international and national developmental think tanks and organisations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.