A cadre of government doctors?

The government is planning the creation of an All-India Medical Service (under all India service, on lines of the Indian administrative service and the Indian police service. The centre has sought comments from states on the proposal, according to the Hindustan Times.

Union health minister CK Mishra wrote to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories on the creation of an all India medical service in order to set up a body of professional doctors across the country. Mishra told the newspaper that the centre is only exploring the idea and would only proceed if the states react positively. Mishra said that although the doctors of the central health service of the Ministry of Health and Family welfare monitor various government health schemes, have never worked in states and may not know the problems being faced by state governments. An all-India medical service may bridge the gap.

According to members of the Indian Medical Association, the proposal to establish a government cadre of doctors is three decades old, having first been proposed in 1977 but never approved. Members of the medical community are in favour of the move, with a cadre of doctors getting perks and pay similar to IAS officers, which they feel could improve service conditions and address the shortage of manpower in public healthcare.

Kerala nurses’ strike

In the middle of a particularly brutal flu season, nurses in Kerala are escalating their protest against the government demanding standard wages. The United Nurses’ Association, whose members have been on an indefinite strike in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode, has planned a march to the state secretariat as well as a statewide token strike on July 11. This despite the government’s industrial relations committee scheduled to meet and take a decision on the issue on July 20, according to a report in The Hindu. The government had failed to take a decision on a minimum wage for nurses in the last industrial relations committee meeting on June 27.

The Indian Nurses Association has decided to go on a hunger strike till their demands are met.

In 2013, the nurses launched an agitation claiming that some hospitals failed to pay them even the basic wage of Rs 9,500 as per the pay scale revision. In 2016, a special committee assigned by the Supreme Court recommended that all privately owned hospitals with more than 50 beds had to make sure that nurses get salaries at par with those in the government sector.

While the nurses’ unions have demanded at least a minimum wage of Rs 18,000, hospitals have agreed to only Rs 12,000.

Delhi’s anti-drug drive

The Delhi government is considering setting up a separate agency to tackle of drug abuse, especially among children. Social Welfare minister Rajendra Pal Gautam said a separate body will be able ensure better awareness, treatment and enforcement.

According to a study on drug abuse patterns in east Delhi’s Seemapuri, at least 80% of children in the area are addicted to intoxicants like marijuana, heroin, tobacco and beer. Some of these children are as young as seven years old. The common factors that often led to addiction were peer pressure, family history of drug abuse, involvement in jobs like rag picking and segregation and easy accessibility of drugs. The study also showed that although most parents knew that their children were taking drugs, they either helpless or unperturbed.