Dr Meenal Viz writes book based on her Downing Street protest
By Elena Scialtiel
Gibraltarian doctor, Meenal Viz, is writing a book about her protest outside Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the time Dr Viz was a GP at the NHS and held a one-woman protest demanding adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) from the UK Government for healthcare workers in May 2020.
Dr Viz is back in Gibraltar, seconded to St. Bernard’s Hospital, and she is writing a book about her experience, to inspire others to follow her path.
She believes that good change can indeed happen, but it is a long journey that requires the support and motivation of many more individuals.
“The book is about my personal story, about how a small symbolic act can trigger the domino effect, but it is also about peaceful protest in the hope of educating and empowering people,” Dr Viz said.
“It also tells that we don’t need any special position of leadership in society to promote change, as long as we have the passion for it.”
She sketches a history of protest and consequent change over a long period of time, often with more left to achieve, particularly in women’s rights.
The tipping point for her was the safety of her family and when she realised, she and her unborn child were exposed to unnecessary risks just by doing her job.
Dr Viz explained the initial reaction to her stand was negative and dismissive, but more and more healthcare workers and patients jumped on board when they understood the magnitude and repercussions of the pandemic.
She weaved a network, got involved in the United Nations vaccination programme, and offered support to bereaved families who sought her counsel directly.
“I put my neck on the line,” she said.
She wants her readers to understand that change happens slowly but surely, and when passing the baton each generation can go farther from the previous.
Dr Viz has returned to her Gibraltar to have her second baby, and because it is the place that reminds her about what is important to her.
“Gibraltar has shaped me in many ways, and gives me hope,” she said.
“In the UK, I felt stifled and constricted as a female brown doctor, as I didn’t have the same freedom of path of some colleagues.”
She claims that many UK health care workers are reconsidering their jobs despite their investment in education and career.
Dr Viz added she feels that in Gibraltar her colleagues were taken better care of, with the Government having made right decisions at the right time.
“My husband and I surely did so, unwilling to sacrifice our family to gruelling shifts, a way of life that was becoming unsustainable. We went days without seeing each other, and we knew this would have affected our family.”
She is satisfied that pregnant women working in health care are now receiving more protection from Covid-19.
“Being pregnant today isn’t as scary and dangerous as it was in early 2020.”
Dr Viz will be discussing her personal story at GibTalks on Saturday, February 4, at the John Mackintosh Hall.