Resident doctors in Karnataka staged an online protest wearing black badges and holding placards with their demands on Thursday, July 22. The doctors have been demanding a reduction of tuition fees, the formation of a legal cell to look into violence against medical professionals, and a COVID-19 risk allowance. They alleged that despite staging protests earlier, the government is yet to respond to their issue. This time, the resident doctors have decided to escalate their agitation by staging a week-long protest, which began on Monday.
Doctors wore black badges while on duty across different medical colleges in the state on Monday, while on Tuesday, they recorded videos of themselves, expressing their difficulties and listing out their demands, which were then posted on social media. On Wednesday, the resident doctors took to Twitter to air their grievances, while on Thursday, they held up placards with their demands and uploaded the pictures on social media. The resident doctors have also planned to take to Twitter on Saturday, with the hashtags #ReducePgDoctorsAcademicFees and #ImplementLegalCell to further highlight their issues.
The Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD) also said that several resident doctors have decided to withhold paying their academic fees until their demands are met. The doctors have demanded a reduction of their fees, arguing that Karnataka has a higher fee in government colleges compared to other states. The doctors have asked that the government take into consideration their services during the pandemic, and reduce their fees
â€śWe have worked very hard during this pandemic without caring about our health and in most cases, we have worked overtime. The fee for our seniors was just Rs 28,000 to Rs 29,000 but for our batch, it was suddenly hiked to around Rs 1.29 lakh. We are asking the government to reduce our fees to what it was for our seniors, considering that we have worked this hard during the pandemic,â€ť said Dr Namratha who is a post-graduation resident doctor and the president of KARD.
KARD has also sought the creation of a legal cell by the government, consisting of legal experts and doctors, which would look into violence and attacks against medical professionals by family members of patients and ensure necessary action is taken against them. Since the pandemic began, several reports surfaced of doctors being physically and verbally abused
Speaking to TNM, Dr Namratha said, â€śIn almost all the colleges in Karnataka, from the time the pandemic began, there have been incidents where doctors have been verbally or physically assaulted. However, it is a very unfortunate thing that the institution doesnâ€™t help the victims file an FIR and ask them to follow it up themselves. In such a situation, doctors, who are working under high pressure, may not be able to follow it up and ultimately, there will be no action taken against the perpetrators of such violent acts. This is the reason we need a legal cell.â€ť
The third demand raised by the resident doctors was that the government must immediately provide a COVID-19 risk allowance. In a statement, KARD said, â€śItâ€™s been nearly more than three months since the order of COVID-19 risk allowance was announced but still not a single rupee has reached our hands.â€ť
In the statement, KARD warned the government of more protests, saying, â€śResident doctors were utilised to the core during the COVID-19 crisis and neglecting their well-being is highly unacceptable. All the demands are just and need of the hour. The entire resident doctor fraternity stood beside the government in handling the crisis. It is the least that the government can do to benefit the resident doctors.â€ť