Theatre on medicine

A healthy venture in The Vaidya's Oath  


A doctor, his pregnant wife, a seismologist who’d rather be a stand up comic, and a sick child explore the misuse of antibiotics

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an issue of serious concern for global public health. It is a threat to effective treatment and prevention of a wide and ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. AMR is the resistance of a microbe to an antimicrobial medicine, which could treat an infection caused by that microbe. This issue has been explored in a theatre project, supported by Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award, presented by Jagriti, Theatrescience and National Centre for Biological Sciences.

The outcome is a play, The Vaidya's Oath, written by Gautam Raja and directed by Jeff Teare. “It is more about the sociological and political aspects of anti-microbial resistance we have explored than pure science,” says Jeff.

The main story of The Vaidya’s Oath is about the pressures of a marriage. Dr. Ajay is demoted and transferred from his hospital in Allahabad to a Primary Health Care centre in Katkoot, Uttar Pradesh. “He is transferred because he makes a noise about AMR,” says Jeff. “But Uma, his wife, is a Bangalore girl and cannot adjust in a small town. Then she finds out she is pregnant.” Parallel to this story is that of a local girl, Kamala, whose baby boy is ill with sepsis.

Can Dr. Ajay cure him? Humour is added to the play by another character, Rahul, a seismologist who wants to be a stand-up comic. “He does jokes about antibiotics. He is the character that takes a comic view of the issue, much like the court jester,” explains Jeff.

AMR, though a global problem, is a major issue in India. “In 2012,” Jeff adds, “Doctors and scientists met in Chennai to discuss the control of misuse of antibiotics. They made a declaration. But since then, nothing has been done about it. There have been huge conferences, but there's been no change on the ground.”

Jeff says political will is needed to make a difference. “There has to be government action to stop selling drugs over the counter. Also we need money to develop new-age antibiotics. No new classes of antibiotics have been developed since the 1960s. Pharmaceutical companies won’t do anything because there is no profit in it.” The cast members of The Vaidya’s Oath are: Pritham Kumar, Pooja Shankar, Bhavik Bhandari and Yeshaswini Channaiah.

The play is being staged at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, on March 12 at 8 p.m. and on March 13 at 3 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.

Tickets are available on

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2016 3:53:01 PM |