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Doctors spring strike threat

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has threatened to call an indefinite strike if the state government fails to withdraw the suspension imposed on doctors in connection with the Murshidabad child deaths within two weeks.

Thousands of doctors from IMA’s Calcutta wing on Saturday marched from Calcutta Medical College and Hospital along with Trinamul Congress activists to garner support for their cause. At Rashbehari Avenue, where the rally converged, political parties like the PDS, the Trinamul Congress and the SUCI expressed solidarity with the “doctors’ movement against government apathy”.

The IMA’s Calcutta branch has decided to meet on July 20 to decide on its next course of action. “We have resolved to review the situation in the meeting and line up a series of agitations,” Dubey added.

The Bengal chapter of the IMA, however, stayed out of Saturday’s meeting in order to protest the Calcutta branch’s decision to include political activists in the rally. “But the Bengal branch members will join the strike if the suspensions on doctors are not lifted,” said IMA state branch secretary Moloy Patra.

An IMA delegation also called on governor Viren J. Shah during the day and handed over a fact-finding report, prepared by the association, on the state of affairs in Murshidabad.

“Our team explained to the governor how the government had failed to provide minimum healthcare facilities in the city as well as in the districts, but has covered up its shortcomings by suspending doctors in Murshidabad,” said IMA joint secretary (headquarters) R.D. Dubey.

In the report submitted to the governor, the IMA’s fact-finding team stated the following facts:

§No records were kept at any hospital in Murshidabad and an attempt was made to cover up the actual death toll;

§Oxygen cylinders were not available at the hospitals for several months, despite the fact that patients with respiratory distress are often admitted there;

§The hospitals also did not have an adequate stock of drugs including paracetamol tablets. At a particular health camp set up by the government, a dentist was asked to look after children with high fever.

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