On National Doctors Day, Kerala medicos work an extra hour to protest their plight

Over 5,000 doctors under the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) are working an hour extra to draw attention to their plight during the pandemic.
Medical staff
Medical staff
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On July 1, as the country celebrates National Doctor’s Day, thousands of doctors working in government hospitals in Kerala are marking the day with protests aimed at drawing attention to their issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To mark the protest, more than 5,000 doctors under the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) are commemorating the day as ‘sahana dhinam’ or ‘tolerance day’ by working an extra hour.

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, doctors, along with other health care workers, have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19, putting their lives at risk. But doctors say that the problems they have been facing over the few past months have not been addressed by the state government with due importance.

“This is not a strike. We are observing ‘tolerance day’ to open the eyes of the officials. To make them see that we are all worked up. COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day in the state, treatment facilities are being increased but there is a dire requirement of human resources in these places. It has been health officials in the government health sector who have been working throughout, since the start. And we have been pushing our limits. We feel this has not been considered as it should be by the government and ‘tolerance day’ is for that,” Dr Joseph Chacko, state president of KGMOA tells TNM.

He adds that the issue is not confined to just doctors, but is similar for all health workers in the government sector.

Doctors also express displeasure over the state government including health workers to the salary deferment announcement wherein 25 percent of the salary of every government employee is being deducted for six months.

“We are working overtime, sometimes even during off-days but we cannot get a leave to compensate for the extra days we work. Even during our off days, we are not free. We will be flooded by calls from people in quarantine centres, police and other health officials. We do not have complaints about this and we understand the prevailing situation of the pandemic, but despite us taking the extra effort, we are denied even basic incentives in addition to the six days salary cut as part of salary deferment,” says Dr Divya PK from Kozhikode.

Dr Joseph points out that expressing gratitude to health workers on Doctors Day is not enough. Rather, the government should take practical steps which will make work easier for the medical staff in the state.

“There are states in the country where special incentives are given for health workers, but we are yet to come up with it. When we proudly say, Kerala has been successful till date in containing the virus, everyone should remember that the efforts of health workers are behind this,” says Dr Joseph.

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