By P.V. Durga:
Within 4 months of a strike following the incident at the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, 2000 resident doctors have gone on an indefinite strike, starting Monday morning, in the national capital. Their demands are pretty clear: they want adequate supply of life-saving and generic drugs, better security at their workplace, drinking water, timely salaries, as well as time-bound duty hours. They claim that they had written to the concerned authorities expressing their grievances, and expected a reaction before June 21st, but carried on with the strike owing to lack of response.
The healthcare services in Delhi naturally have been affected, because the 2000 doctors protesting belong to 20 different hospitals, including major ones such as Safdarjung Hospital, and Lady Hardinge Medical College.
We need to remember that this is not the first time that doctors have gone on strike. Horrible working conditions have been reported in the past too. These doctors are public servants but that doesn’t warrant sidelining of their basic rights. The welfare of patients lie in the welfare of doctors too, and thus, ignoring their grievances would mean disregard for public health. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal seems to have grasped this point well, and promptly tweeted, acknowledging the demands of the doctors as “genuine”. He also mentioned that the government is “committed” to providing the “best health facilities” to people. On the other hand, he alleged lack of cooperation of the doctors, and said that they were invited for talks on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (at 3 pm), but did not show up.
A doctor, requesting anonymity, informed me that resident doctors have the toughest job, as they are the first to aide patients in casualties, thereby facing the emotional upheavals of the patients’ companions too. Therefore, he said that a strike is indeed the “last resort”. Plausible, because considering a doctor’s responsibilities, a strike is indicative of a prolonged period of negligence.
There is a need to place such strikes that have far-reaching consequences, in a political context too. Ever since Kejriwal’s landslide victory in Delhi, the national capital has been the center of action for months together now. Political parties have tried their best to make use of opportunities to attribute issues to faults in governance. The congress has been quick to react, with the Delhi Congress’s chief spokesperson expressing the party’s support to the doctors’ demands, and at the same time accusing the Kejriwal regime of poor administration. One can only hope that this strike culminates into proactive measures to address the concerns being raised, and does not become propaganda for warring political parties.