New Delhi: As the doctors continued their protest across the country in solidarity with their striking colleagues in Kolkata, union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday asked states to enact law for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence in the wake of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal. The Centre, meanwhile, sought separate reports from the West Bengal government on the ongoing doctors' strike.
Along with a letter to all chief ministers, union health minister also attached a copy of the Draft Act provided by IMA — the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017. He drew the attention of all states and UTs for strict action against any person who assaults doctors.
Dr Vardhan wrote the letter after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) 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 in hospitals. The IMA, apex doctors body, has called for a nationwide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.
Dr Vardhan pointed that incidents of assault on doctors are reported from different parts of the country and this leads to sudden strike by doctors, gravely affecting the healthcare services. "Resident doctors in many parts of the country are agitating and not providing healthcare services. Agitations by doctors in West Bengal seem to be getting aggravated and taking shape of strike by both government and private sector doctors, all over the country," Union health minister wrote.
Representatives from the IMA and Delhi Medical Association (DMA) also called on Dr Vardhan on Saturday. Stressing further on the need for avoiding such incidents in future, Dr Vardhan said that law enforcement should prevail so that doctors and clinical establishments discharge their duties and professional pursuit without fear of any violence.
"Strict action against any person who assaults them, must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies," he emphasised. Dr Vardhan cited a letter dated July 7, 2017 sent by the Union health ministry to all chief secretaries of states which contains the decision taken by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the ministry to review the issues raised by IMA.
The committee, in its report, had recommended that the Health Ministry shall suggest to all state governments which do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider one to strictly enforce the provisions of special legislation wherever they exist or enforce the IPC/CrPC provisions with vigour.