Consider enacting law to protect medical professionals from violence: Centre to states

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Saturday asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence in the wake of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal.

Along with a letter to all chief ministers, he also attached a copy of the Draft Act provided by IMA –the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017.

He drew the attention of all states and UTs for strict action against any person who assaults doctors.

The move comes after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals. The apex doctors body has called for a nationwide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.

Vardhan cited a letter dated July 7, 2017 sent by the Union Health Ministry to all chief secretaries of states which contains the decision taken by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the ministry to review the issues raised by IMA.

The committee, in its report, had recommended that the Health Ministry shall suggest to all state governments which do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider one to strictly enforce the provisions of special legislation wherever they exist or enforce the IPC/CrPC provisions with vigour.

“The IMA has raised this concern many a times. Since ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects, government of India, on many occasions has drawn attention of state governments  for an urgent need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime,” Vardhan said. The draft of The Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017, circulated to the states, includes clauses on penalty and recovery in case of loss/damage to property.