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Doctors in Bengal have been on strike for a week -- and a truce with the government still seems tough

Preeti Soni | Jun 17, 2019, 10.36AM IST

  • Doctors striking in West Bengal have decided to hold discussions with CM Mamta Banerjee over the safety issues.
  • However, the doctors have asked the presence of representatives of all medical colleges and national media to keep transparency.
  • Meanwhile, India’s leading medical association have widened the nationwide strike on 17 June.
The doctors on strike in the state of West Bengal for improved security have decided to talk with West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee “to immediately end the impasse.” However, they have demanded the discussion to take place in the presence of media and include representatives of all medical colleges in the state.

"The last press interview by our honourable Chief Minister was full of discrepancies which had led to false propagation of the motive behind our protests and the response of the government to it. Hence it needs clarification," said a representative from doctors strike.

On 15 June , India’s leading doctors’ association, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), widened the nation-wide protest beyond West Bengal, where the strike started, across the country on 17 June, demanding better security to prevent any violent attack, reported Reuters.

The strike is going to cripple hundreds of government-run hospitals across India. The protest started in West Bengal after relatives of a dead patient attacked three junior doctors at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata leaving them seriously injured.

The IMA, that now demands a legislation to protect the doctors, said the attack was “barbaric.” Over 30,000 doctors in the country joined the one-day long strike on 15 June, claimed medical associations. Previously, the IMA stretched the day long strike on Friday to over the weekend and decided to all non-essential services in all health care institutions on 17 June.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has urged all the Chief Ministers to take strict action against the assault. “The government must pass a law to make any attack on doctors a non-bailable offence with minimum 12 years of jail,” tweeted Vardhan.

With the nation-wide protest going on since Friday now, most of the patients will likely have to wait outside hospitals for long hours, according to Reuters. India’s government spending on health care is already among the lowest in the world.

The protests are against the brutal attack on two junior doctors in Kolkata by the family members of a dead patient in the NRS Medical College and Hospital that took place late on June 10, doctors across the West Bengal and later across India had stopped working.
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