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Doctors’ strike affects health care across state

Government doctors protest near the Assembly in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Telegraph picture

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 27: Health service across the state was hit today by an indefinite strike launched by government doctors in support of their demands, including implementation of the dynamic assured career progression (DACP).

Doctors working in government-run primary and community health centres, sub-divisional and district hospitals, resident and junior doctors and medical students have also joined the agitation, Odisha Medical Services Association secretary Kishore Chandra Mishra said.

Doctors and teaching faculty of three government-run medical colleges did not take part in the strike. The agitating doctors, Mishra said, sat on a dharna outside their respective places of work. The strike would continue till their demands were met.

Health secretary P.K. Mohapatra, however, claimed: “There is no disruption in the health service anywhere in the state. Every thing is running normally.” Mohapatra said the agitating doctors did not give anything in writing to the government. “There is a due process. They should have come and discussed their demands before deciding to protest,” he said.

Association representatives said they had been forced to launch the agitation because the government did not pay heed to their repeated pleas. “There is scarcity of doctors in the state because the DACP is not being implemented. Young doctors are not interested to join government service and consequently, health care outside the cities have been badly affected,” they said.

The DACP assures at least four promotions to a doctor during his career. This has already been implemented in states such as Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, said a leader of the association.

They are also demanding a transparent transfer policy, cadre restructuring, development of infrastructure and recruitment of more doctors by the state government.

A senior health department official said the agitation was “unjustified” as the state government had fulfilled most of the demands.

“The demand for DACP is being examined by a ministerial committee, cadre restructuring of the doctors has been made and entry-level doctors has been made Junior Class I. A transparent transfer policy is being followed. A law has been enacted to prevent assault on doctors on duty. Allowances have been revised. Besides, 436 leave reserve doctor and 200 dental surgeon posts have been created,” he said.

The Odisha Medical Services Association leaders, however, said there were around 2,200 doctors in the primary sector against a sanctioned strength of 4,362. According to the doctor, patient ratio recommended by WHO, the state should have around 13,000 doctors.