Doctors across the country are on a strike, boycotting work and staging protests holding placards and banners with ‘Save the Doctors’ written on them. The doctors' strike that started in Kolkata earlier this week has now spread across India with the doctors' association of AIIMS showing full support to their West Bengal colleagues.
Here is why doctors across India are protesting:
– In the early hours of Tuesday, news broke that a young student doctor was attacked allegedly by the relatives of a recently deceased patient in Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital. The doctor was allegedly hit with a brick on his head, leaving him with a fractured skull. He has been hospitalised and is in a critical condition.
– The incident sparked massive outrage among the medical community, with several doctors from the state of West Bengal’s healthcare sector threatening mass resignation if proper action was not taken to ensure the security and safety of doctors.
– West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the doctors to stop all protests and asked them to go back to work. She also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the incident to create communal tension in the state.
– Services in a large number of state-run hospitals in West Bengal were paralysed after striking junior doctors rejected a four-hour ultimatum from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw the agitation and restore normalcy.
– Within hours, social media was flooded with messages of outrage and solidarity with the doctor. Doctors and other members of the medical community tweeted with the hashtag #SaveTheDoctors, stating that they will be boycotting work and standing in support of the young doctor who was attacked and that the protests will continue until action is taken.
How long the saviours of humanity would have to pay the price for saving lives by continuously being thrashed and mobbed by these perpetrators? #Savethedoctors #savehumanity #EnoughIsEnough pic.twitter.com/k21ot6IuRZ— Mritunjay Kumar (@DrMritunjay99) June 14, 2019
– Many doctors’ associations and groups have also come forward to condemn the attacks against doctors. Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA), based out of Hyderabad, and the Resident Doctors’ Association at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (RDA, AIIMS) in Delhi issued statements to come forward and protest in solidarity against such attacks.
– Several resident doctors at the AIIMS in New Delhi worked with bandages on their heads in a symbolic protest and decided to boycott work.
– The Indian Medical Association (IMA) took note of the issue and announced that on Friday, protests would be held throughout the nation in view of rising incidents of violence against doctors and medical personnel. The association also asked members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday. However, IMA stated that patient services, particularly emergency services, will not be affected by the protests.
– AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) also urged all the RDAs across the country to join the token strike.
– On Friday, the doctors’ strike spread across India with the doctors' association of AIIMS showing full support to their West Bengal colleagues. Doctors in Delhi, Mumbai and other cities in India, especially AIIMS hospitals in the national capital, Raipur, Patna and Punjab are observing protest shutdown. Resident doctors in several government hospitals in Kerala and Hyderabad also staged protests as they started their 'cease work' demonstrations in respective cities. Doctors from Andhra Medical College in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam too staged protests in support, as did doctors from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka
– In the wake of the strike, the AIIMS has instituted contingency measures to take care of the admitted patients, including those in the ICUs and wards.
On Friday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan met a doctors' delegation and appealed to them to withdraw the strike. He added that he will write to Chief Ministers of all states and request them to provide a safe environment to doctors.