Doctors associated with the State branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) observed a black day on Tuesday to draw the government’s attention to the increasing attacks on the medical fraternity across the country. The doctors staged a silent protest by wearing black armbands.
Three back-to-back incidents of violence against doctors prompted the IMA to call for protest marches across its branches. On January 12, a leading surgeon and owner of Allahabad-based Jeevan Jyoti Hospital, Dr. A.K. Bansal, 62, was shot dead by unidentified shooters while examining a patient. On January 4, three doctors from Pune were arrested alleged medical negligence leading to the death of a 30 year-old woman in August last year. The woman was being treated affter she complained of severe pain in the pelvic region. Doctors said that she was administered the standard line of treatment and there was no case of negligence.
On January 2, Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Uttara Kannada, Ananthkumar Hegde, manhandled and assaulted doctors at a private hospital in Sirsi, Karnataka. Mr. Hegde’s mother was under treatment at the hospital.
Dr. Jayesh Lele, member of the IMA and former president of its Maharashtra arm, said attacks on doctors have increased over the past few years. “All these cases highlight the threat to the doctors’ fraternity. There are increasing attacks and almost every time the doctor is at the receiving end,” he said. “Maharashtra has an Act for doctors’ protection under which the culprits can be booked under a non-bailable offence. But there is little awareness of the Act among law enforcers. The attacks have been a cause of great concern for all of us and we decided to express our discontent through protest. We explained the situation to every patient who asked us about the black ribbons.”
‘Frame protection law’
Dr. Ashok Tambe, president, Maharashtra IMA, said, “We have been demanding a centralised doctors’ protection Act for a long time now. If the Act is brought in, there will be more gravity and awareness of the law. Now, only a few States have their own Act and awareness of it is extremely low.” Dr. Tambe said that all doctors of the IMA had ensured that work at hospitals was not hampered and the protest remained peaceful.