After Jorhat Lynching, Demand For Doctors’ Protection Intensifies

Thursday, 19 September 2019

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After Jorhat Lynching, Demand For Doctors’ Protection Intensifies

Saumya Mishra | September 07, 2019 13:15 hrs

GUWAHATI: Following the lynching of a 73-year-old doctor in Assam’s Jorhat district, the demand for protection of doctors and their security has intensified across the state.  
   
Doctors and teachers at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) took out a rally on Tuesday to protest against the death of Dr Deben Dutta. 

Dr Dutta was beaten to death by a tea garden worker's family and others, allegedly after the worker died during treatment at a hospital in Teok Tea Garden. Assam Police has arrested 31 people including the main accused since then in connection with the case.

Following this, the Assam State Branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) called for a state-wide withdrawal of medical facilities in the state from 6 AM of September 3 to 6 AM of September 4.

Members of the Medical College Teachers' Association and Junior Doctors' Association took part in the rally and participated in the 24-hour long strike by IMA. However, emergency medical services remained operational during the strike.    

Close to 250 doctors as well as teachers had participated in the rally to express their solidarity with the continuous attacks on doctors by relatives and family members of patients and to demand for their various rights.  
    
General Secretary of the Junior Doctors’ Association at GMCH, Dr Dipanjan Goswami, informed G Plus that the GMCH doctors observed the strike by boycotting services.   

“The OPD (out-patient department) and major OTs remained closed on Tuesday and only the emergency services were operational,” said Goswami.   

He added that one of their major demands includes ensuring the safety of doctors by proper implementation of the Assam Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Protection of Violence and Damage to Property) Act in the state. 

Another doctor at GMCH told G Plus, “The Assam Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Protection of Violence and Damage to Property) Act has been enacted since long but the conviction rate under this is very poor.”

She added that people who become violent with doctors get arrested but are very easily released on bail once the matter cools down.  
  
Some of the other demands include better security of doctors serving in the rural areas as well as increasing the number of doctors in the periphery hospitals. 

“Usually, in a lot of periphery hospitals, there is only one doctor who has to work for 365 days of the year, and this puts immense pressure on them. In the case of Teok hospital too, Dr Deben Dutta was the only doctor and he had gone to have lunch when the serious patient arrived and expired,” said Goswami adding that this is a problem which needs immediate attention from the authorities.  
     
It is to be mentioned that Dr Deben Dutta had retired a long time ago but was serving the patients on an extension at the tea estate. 

Additionally, sources revealed that the IMA state branch is currently deciding on the future course of action. IMA officials have reportedly also voiced their concern to the health & family welfare minister and to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, informed sources. 

“If they do not receive a favourable response, then they are planning a total shut down of medical services state-wide. However, the IMA has not released any official statement as yet,” said the source.

The doctors are of the opinion that such instances of physical assault on doctors are taking place with alarming regularity and need strict action against the perpetrators to ensure doctors’ protection.  
 
In June, the doctors in Guwahati and across Assam had boycotted the violence against doctors in West Bengal and demanded immediate and strict action against the perpetrators.

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