Bitter medicine

Doctors’ strike, which started in West Bengal, has now spread across the country and is posing a serious threat to healthcare services. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) announced Sunday evening that all non-essential services, including out-patient services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am today across India in support of the striking junior doctors in West Bengal. Only emergency and casualty services will be offered, it said.

The doctors, who are protesting against the assault on two of their colleagues at NRS Medical College and Hospital, have sought unconditional apology from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and set six conditions for the State government in order to withdraw their stir. Agitating doctors Saturday turned down Mamata’s offer for talks at the State Secretariat saying they fear for their security and rejected her appeal to end their stir, which entered the fifth day. As medical services in the State remained paralysed, the CM urged the agitators to resume work and said her government had accepted all their demands.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory seeking a report on the stir. But Mamata reacted sharply to it and said such advisory should be ‘sent to States like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where several murders are reported since the last couple of years’. Bengal Governor K N Tripathi wrote to the Chief Minister, advising her to take immediate steps to provide security to the medicos and find a solution to the impasse. Mamata later said she had spoken to the Governor and apprised him about the steps taken by the State to resolve the impasse. This should not be further allowed to escalate into an ego clash or political drama. Necessary steps should be taken by all stakeholders to end the strike, as the lives of lakhs of patients are at stake.

NT Bureau