New Delhi: Healthcare services at several private hospitals across the country are likely to be hit as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for the suspension of all non-emergency services, including OPD for 12 hours, to protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill on Saturday.
The IMA will observe "Dhikkar Diwas - no to NMC Bill" to protest against the proposed legislation, which seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body. The Union Health Ministry has said the strike may involve the participation of a number of medical professionals, thereby, adversely affecting the healthcare services and causing inconvenience to patient care in the hospitals.
The ministry has thus asked the additional chief secretaries and health secretaries of all states and Union Territories to put in place all necessary measures to ensure that the patient health care and emergency services are run smoothly during the strike. "Provisions of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) may be invoked, if necessary. These measures may be continued if the strike is extended," a communique said.
The IMA had earlier said in a statement that while all elective procedures will be deferred, critical services, including deliveries, emergencies and in-patient care will be provided.
"A general body meeting of all local branches will be convened at 9 am on Saturday to pass a resolution against the NMC Bill. The 'Call for Action' to defend the autonomy of the medical profession is hereby given to each and every member of the medical profession," it had said.
"In spite of the deep resentment and opposition of the medical profession of the country, the government is going ahead with the enactment of the National Medical Commission Bill-2017. We are left with no choice but to resist the move with determination and resolve," Dr Ravi Wankhedkar, National President, IMA had said. He has said that the bill will be stopped at any cost.
On Saturday, IMA members will hold a procession and go to their respective MPs, district collector's/sub collector's office and submit a memorandum addressed to the prime minister, the statement has said. Branches with medical colleges have an additional responsibility to coordinate with the action in the medical colleges involving the medical students, Wankhedkar had said.
In March, the Health Ministry had approved amendments to the NMC Bill, including removing the contentious provision of "bridge course", which would have allowed practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy, after stiff resistance from the IMA and the opposition.
The IMA had earlier said the Bill in its current form remained "anti-poor, anti-people and anti-federal law" which, if passed, "will have unforeseen consequences on not only the health sector but also on the federal structure of the country." Doctors belonging to the IMA had gone on a 12-hour strike as part of a nationwide stir against the NMC Bill in January.
The statement had said that the Bill would make medical education inaccessible to the poor and downtrodden and doctors would come only from the rich sections of the population.