Thiruvananthapuram: The functioning of government and private hospitals in Kerala was affected on Friday as doctors went on a 12-hour-long strike in protest against the increasing incidents of alleged attacks against them in the state.
The strike was called by various organisations of doctors, including the Indian Medical Association and the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association.
According to protesters, more than 40,000 doctors hit the streets, urging the government to take measures to end attacks on doctors in Kerala and also to declare hospitals as special protection zones. All medical services, except emergency medical care, were stalled, inconveniencing thousands of patients who had come to the outpatient departments of the hospitals, unaware of the strike.
The strike call was given well in advance, however, many people were unaware and had to return after visiting the hospitals.
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”Every week there is an attack on a doctor in Kerala, and what is more appalling is that not even one person involved in these cases is convicted. This is emboldening the anti-social elements to continue attacks on doctors,” Dr Sulphi N, state president of IMA, told PTI.
He said the IMA realises that only a small percentage of anti-socials in the community were involved in the attacks. ”Our aim is not to bring difficulties for our patient community,” Sulphi said, adding all steps were taken to ensure the smooth conduct of emergency medical services, transplant services, emergency surgeries, and even providing medical aid at Brahmapuram, where a fire broke out recently, polluting the air in Kochi city and surrounding areas.
He said the 12-hour strike was unprecedented in the history of IMA as it got support from 52 medical organisations. ”IMA cannot sit idle when doctors are attacked,” he added.
More than 1,000 doctors sat on a dharna inside the IMA premises in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding justice and asking the government to declare hospitals as special protection zones. They also urged the government to implement the observations of the Kerala High Court with regard to providing security to the doctors.
Several patients and their relatives were affected by the protest.
In government medical colleges, the casualties operated with the bare minimum of doctors.