News Brief

IMA calls off nationwide strike after medical bill was referred to parliamentary panel

Doctors are protesting against the proposed National Medical Commission Bill, which the association called anti-people and anti-poor.

The Indian Medical Association on Tuesday called off its strike against the National Medical Commission Bill after the controversial legislation was referred to a parliamentary standing committee, PTI reported. Outpatient Department, or OPD, services at hospitals were affected across India on Tuesday, after the association called for a 12-hour strike.

The strike was in force for around eight hours. Doctors are vehemently against a provision of bridge courses proposed in the bill. The legislation, which seeks to replace the Medical Council of India, also proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, practise modern medicine after attending a short-term course.

The parliamentary panel has been asked to submit its report before the budget session. “We called off our strike as the bill has been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which has members from diverse fields and there should now be a fruitful discussion,” K K Aggarwal, of the IMA, told the news agency.

The IMA dubbed the bill anti-people and anti-poor and warned that it will make way for more corruption in the field in its current form. To register its protest, the association had urged its 2.9 lakh members to participate in the strike from 6 am to 6 pm on Tuesday.

In Kerala, doctors protested outside Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram even as patients waited outside a general hospital. OPD services in Karnataka’s Hubli and other cities in the states were also affected. Doctors protested in parts of Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, as well.

During the protest, Doctors in government hospitals continued their services, but observed a “Black Day” by wearing a black arm band as their way of participating in the strike.

Dr Vivek Chouksey, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors Association, told NDTV that politicians were trying to push the bill on them, but they were keeping away from the protest for the sake of patients.

In Tamil Nadu, however, government doctors, too, boycotted OPD services in protest against the National Medical Commission Bill, PTI reported.

Health Minister JP Nadda had tabled the bill in the Lower House on Friday. In the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, the health minister said he had spoken to representatives of the Indian Medical Association on Monday. “We heard them and put forth our perspective, as well,” he said after other parliamentarians brought up the doctors’ strike. “This [bill] will be beneficial for the medical profession.”

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