Violence against medical professionals: IMA says countrywide strike today

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Sunday said it will go ahead with its strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country in the wake of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal.

The announcement came a day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.

The apex medical body, IMA, however, demanded a comprehensive central law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff, and in hospitals.

Security measures and the determinants leading to violence should also be addressed, it said in a statement.

Exemplary punishment for perpetrators of violence should be a component of the central law and suitable amendments should be brought in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the IMA said.

The IMA said all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on Monday to 6 am Tuesday.

Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said.

The medical body had 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.

It had also called for a countrywide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services. 

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

In its statement, the IMA said effective implementation of the central law has to be ensured by incorporating suitable clauses.

Nineteen states have already passed legislations in this regard and in 2016, an inter-ministerial committee’s recommendations document was signed by the IMA with the central government, the medical body said.

Hospitals should be declared as “safe zones”.Structured safety measures, including a three-layer security, CCTV cameras and restriction of entry of visitors should be well defined and enforced uniformly across the country in all sectors, it said.

“Healthcare violence has its origin in high expectations, lack of infrastructure and inadequate human resources. Issues of medical profession involving doctor-patient relationship, effective communication regarding the nature of illness and professional counselling play a part as well. “The IMA expects the government of India to provide for each of these components,” according to the statement.