From Delhi to Kerala, here's why doctors are protesting against Modi govt's new bill

The twelve-hour strike, which is in force from 6:00 am-6:00 pm today, is to protest the National Medical Commission Bill, which aims to replace the MCI.

From Delhi to Kerala, here's why doctors are protesting against Modi govt's new bill
Photo: ANI

NEW DELHI: More than two lakh doctors are observing a nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday. 

The twelve-hour strike, which is in force from 6:00 am-6:00 pm today, is to protest the National Medical Commission Bill, which aims to replace the MCI. With doctors staying off duty, the protest against the new bill has left many patients in the lurch.

Meanwhile, the National Medical Commission bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha today after which the upper house of the Parliament send it to the Standing Committee. 

The Standing Committee will submit a report on it in the first week of the budget session. 

In Kerala, while the doctors at the state-run medical colleges decided to keep away from the Out Patient Department for an hour from 8:00 am-9:00 am and at the state-run hospitals from 9:00-10:00 am, in many private hospitals the protests would continue till 6:00 pm.

However, the emergency services have not been affected.

To register their protest against the new bill, more than 3,000 doctors from 14 districts staged a dharna in front of the Governor's house in Thiruvananthapuram.

"I was being examined by a doctor and mid way, other doctors came and pulled my doctor away. I am now waiting for the doctor to return. This is very cruel," said a woman at the state-run General Hospital.

Similarly, in Karnataka, hundreds of private hospitals shut their OPDs to protest against the NMC Bill, 2017.

Most of the private hospitals would not operate their OPDs between 6:00 am-6:00 pm on Tuesday, said President of the Karnataka chapter of IMA HN Ravindra.

Protests were held by doctors in the national capital as well.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday. It will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) besides allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and Ayurveda, to practice allopathy after completing a bridge course.

The bridge course will be decided upon at a meeting between the proposed National Medical Commission, the Central Council of Homoeopathy and the Central Council of Indian Medicine.

The draft bill was introduced by Union Health Minister JP Nadda in Lok Sabha on Thursday to replace and subsume the MCI. The NMC Bill, 2017, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on December 18, is to set up a new and transparent system of regulating health care.

"We have been forced to protest as we have no other option," said Indian Medical Association official N Sulphi.

The government, however, maintained that the bill is beneficial for the medical fraternity. Union Health Minister JP Nadda said in Rajya Sabha, "This is beneficial to the medical profession". He also said the talks with the striking doctors were going on. "Talks are on. We have heard them and also presented our views."

The protests come at a time when the Bill might be taken up for discussion in Parliament, later on Tuesday.