Hundreds of doctors from the eastern zone, owing allegiance to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), have decided to launch a massive agitation, including a general strike, this December. They will be protesting the government’s “ill-planned health policies” which, they allege, have resulted in medical practitioners becoming “soft targets” all over the country.
At least 11 attacks on doctors in chambers and hospitals during the past week — most of them in the city — and certain “objectionable” provisions of the newly-laid Clinical Establishments Act have prompted doctors from Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Assam and Manipur to assemble in Calcutta on November 30. They will attend an ‘emergency’ meeting to decide their next course of action.
“The issues are extremely important and we need to draw the attention of the Central and state governments immediately,” IMA president Prof. S. Gangopadhyay told Metro on Monday. “We have decided to launch an agitation, which could be in the form of a strike. The final decision will be taken at the meeting to be attended by all important IMA functionaries of the eastern zonal states, along with general practitioners.”
The meeting will focus on:
lThe government’s “ill-planned policies”, specially lack of infrastructure; the government’s emphasis on curative, rather than preventive treatment, leaving doctors to take the blame
lIncreasing attacks on doctors
lImplementation of the Clinical Establishments Act, which demands that doctors practise in air-conditioned chambers, with spacious rooms, even if most patients come from the poorer sections of society and cannot pay the consultation fee
lThat basic anti-tuberculosis, leprosy and anti-malaria drugs have vanished from the market. Several government-run manufacturers have either shut shop or are on the verge of closure, due to faulty government policy
lThe Centre’s failure to ratify the historic Almati conference decision of 1978, which stipulated “basic health for all” by 2000
The IMA president, who has already received “positive response from all quarters” regarding the agitation plans, said they have also decided to undertake a public-awareness campaign “to explain that it is the politicians who are to be blamed” for poor infrastructure and lack of medical facilities, not the doctor.
“There is no denying the fact that doctors have a great responsibility towards society, but to err is human,” said Gangopadhyay, on the “mistakes” that medical practitioners are often accused of.
To address the deteriorating doctor-patient relations and the rise in medical cases reaching the courtroom, the mega medico meet will also stress legal issues and medical ethics.