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Kerala: Doctors Strike Work, Demand Protection from Frequent Attacks

The IMA has demanded that the state government allay fears among the doctors about increasing attacks on professionals and hospitals.
Doctors took out a rally in Kozhikode as part of the 12-hour strike held on March 17 (Image courtesy: Sankar Mahadevan

Doctors took out a rally in Kozhikode as part of the 12-hour strike held on March 17 (Image courtesy: Sankar Mahadevan

The doctors in Kerala, led by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Kerala Chapter, held a 12-hour strike on March 17 from 6 am against the continuing attacks on medical professionals in the state. The organisation has demanded immediate action on the culprits who attacked a cardiologist in Fatima Hospital Kozhikode on March 4. 

Though an attempt to murder case has been filed against the perpetrators, one of the accused in the case is yet to be nabbed. 

The strike called by the IMA was supported by 54 other organisations, the first such massive participation the organisation claimed. A demand for the speedy implementation of the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions, Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act as per the guidelines of the High court of Kerala was raised during the strike.

Recent years have seen an increase in incidents of attacks on doctors and hospitals, leading to fear among healthcare professionals, a statement of the IMA claimed.

Doctors stayed away from duty for 12 hours from 6 am to 6 pm on March 17, seeking immediate action against the attackers in the Fatima Hospital incident, after an infant died in the hospital on March 4.

“The strike is primarily to demand action against those who attacked the doctor in Kozhikode. One of the culprits in the case is yet to be arrested by the police, despite an attempt to murder case being filed,” said Dr Sulphi N, president of IMA Kerala, speaking to NewsClick.

The IMA claimed that there is an increase in the number of attacks on hospitals and doctors, with 200 attacks in the past three years in a statement. “The government has begun the implementation of the Hospital Protection Act, but it needs to be completed at a faster pace and in a time-bound manner to ensure the protection of the professionals,” said Dr Sulphi. 

With the massive participation of 54 different organisations including the Kerala Medical College Teachers Association, and Indian Dental Association, the strike affected outpatient services across the state, while emergency services were exempted from the strike. Minor protests erupted at several places by the public after the boycott of outpatient services, but no untoward incidents were reported. 

“The doctors are working under severe stress and fear possible attacks. Around 99% of the doctors in private and government hospitals participated in the strike demanding action,” said Dr Namita Mohan,  an ophthalmologist at the Malabar Eye Hospitals, Kozhikode, speaking to NewsClick

Minister for Health and Family Welfare Veena George has promised strict action against the attackers and steps to prevent such incidents in the hospitals. 

“The government must ensure the safety of the doctors since the possibility of the doctors and hospitals facing attacks anytime has increased in the state. The government needs to assure the healthcare professionals so that they can discharge their duties without fear,” said Dr Namitha. 

The IMA has also demanded that the state government withdraw cases filed against the doctors who have participated in different protest movements

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