Dr Sandesh Lamsal Slams Colgate for the Misuse of Doctors in Their Advertisement

Enepalese Published on: May 14, 2024

Dr Sandesh Lamsal, a medical doctor at Rapti Provincial Hospital, has publicly
 a recent advertisement of Colgate Nepal that he believes portrays doctors in
a grossly incompetent and insulting light. The controversial ad has ignited broader
concerns about the rising tide of disrespect for healthcare workers and its potential
to endanger the patient-doctor relationship.

The video in question, circulated on Colgate Nepal’s Instagram and Facebook page,
shows a dishevelled doctor in an operating theatre with a bed attached to his back. The
doctor appears confused about the patient’s scheduled procedure, mistaking an
appendectomy for a kidney transplant. He clumsily prepares for surgery while still
encumbered by the bed, until a nurse berates him and suggests brushing with Colgate
MaxFresh gel for an instant jolt of freshness. Only after brushing does the bed
miraculously disappear, and the doctor is suddenly lucid and focused enough to address
the patient.

Dr Lamsal expressed his outrage with the video, emphasizing how it misrepresents the
medical profession and erodes the trust between doctors and patients.  He took to
Instagram and Facebook, demanding the video’s removal and a public apology from
Colgate Nepal. However, his comment and others expressing similar criticism were
swiftly hidden by the company. These comments are now back on the page after Dr
Lamsal again criticized them for hiding the comments.

Undeterred, Dr Lamsal contacted Colgate’s parent company, Colgate-Palmolive Limited.
The response from their consumer affairs team attempted to minimize the ad’s
implications, describing it as merely a “dramatic representation” showcasing the
toothpaste’s invigorating properties. They cited a disclaimer in the ad to further distance
themselves from accusations of disrespecting the medical profession.

In a strongly worded email, Dr Lamsal’s social media team refuted Colgate’s
explanation. They highlighted the advertisement’s potential to incite mistrust and even
violence towards doctors by fostering harmful stereotypes:
 Doctors are perpetually tired and unprepared.
 Doctors are unable to perform basic surgical procedures and rely on nursing staff for
 Medical errors are commonplace and solely the doctor’s fault. 

This controversy comes at a time of heightened tensions within the medical community
in Nepal. Doctors and medical professionals face increasing instances of verbal and
physical abuse from patients and their families, often fueled by unrealistic expectations
or misdirected anger over treatment outcomes. Dr Lamsal fears that irresponsible
advertisements, such as Colgate’s, further contribute to an environment where doctors
are perceived as incompetent or uncaring, leading to potential escalations in violence.

Dr Lamsal emphasizes that Colgate’s actions demonstrate a disturbing disregard for the
integrity of the medical profession. He underscores the fact that doctors sacrifice their
well-being in the service of patients and should not be targets of such harmful
misrepresentation in advertising. The doctor mentions that a simple disclaimer is not a
justifiable excuse for the damaging content of the advertisement.

As of yet, Colgate has not taken down the video, nor have they issued a formal apology.
Dr Lamsal and his supporters await a response from the company that shows they
understand the gravity of the situation and acknowledge the harm caused by the
insensitive advertisement. Organizations representing the medical community in Nepal
are also expected to weigh in on this issue, calling for greater protection of healthcare
workers and their profession.