Right to Health Bill protest escalates: IMA calls for National Bandh

Jaipur: While the protest against the Right to Health Bill entered the 16th Day on Monday, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced nationwide Solidarity Day on Tuesday i.e. April 04, 2023.

The IMA announcement in this regard has come when the Rajasthan branch of IMA appealed to the national office bearers for their support by giving a call for a Nationwide bandh of healthcare facilities.

On Tuesday, the protesting doctors have planned to arrange a Maha Rally in Jaipur and doctors have already started a campaign to make it a major event.

The doctors belonging to private hospitals in Rajasthan have been protesting against the proposed “Right to Health” bill for the last few months. While the Bill was proposed by the Rajasthan Government to ensure that the residents of the State can avail treatment at any hospital, it made the medical fraternity in the State furious as they termed it to be draconian and illogical. Several Clauses of the bill have been pointed out by the doctors under Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Society (PHNHS) and Jaipur Medical Association as they claimed that it lacks clarity and wants to delimit the powers of doctors.

Referring to the Bill that aims to ensure the rights of the patient for availing quality healthcare, the doctors have mainly objected to the clauses that require that patients will be treated for any medical emergency free of cost at both private and government hospitals. The doctors pointed out that the State has not defined what is an emergency and how the cost of such medical expenses will be reimbursed to private doctors and hospitals.

Apart from this, the doctors under the Jaipur branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have also opposed a specific clause of the bill that talks about setting up a separate grievance redressal committee for addressing complaints by patients. Amidst the complete shutdown of medical services in Rajasthan by private and government doctors, the State passed the bill in the Assembly last week.

Even though the State Assembly has now passed this controversial bill, the doctors are continuing their protest against the controversial Health Act demanding the withdrawal of the same. The private doctors in Rajasthan have been maintaining the complete shutdown of medical services throughout the State for the last few days. The medical services in the State became further crippled on last Wednesday after the government doctors and faculty members in medical colleges joined a one-day strike to express their solidarity with the agitating private doctors.

Also Read: Expert Comment: Right to health bill passed by Rajasthan Legislature

The protesting doctors in Rajasthan took out a rally on Sunday along with their relatives. The doctors with their children and families reached the JMA auditorium and a procession was organized to Teen Murti Circle. The placards placed in the hands of Children read “Our parents are doctors, not robbers.”

Meanwhile, writing to the heads of State branches and local IMA branches, the IMA HQ has announced a nationwide Solidarity Day on Tuesday i.e. 04.04.2023.

IMA has informed the office bearers of State and local branches that a delegation of National office bearers will join the Maha Rally at Jaipur tomorrow. In this regard, IMA has instructed, “All state branches are directed to send a delegation of state officials not less than two to join the Maha rally in Jaipur on 04.04.2023. The delegation may bring their state banner for display. The state President and State Secretary of IMA Rajasthan are hereby directed to act as coordinators and provide required information and hospitality.”

“All local branches are directed to call for an emergency meeting on the day, create awareness on the issue and the situation. The local branch can decide on dharna or any other form of protest. They may pass a resolution when required,” added the letter.

Speaking about the future course of action, the President of IMA Rajasthan, Dr. Sunil Chugh told Medical Dialogues, “We are in talks with the Government to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, IMA headquarters has given a call for dharna pradarshan across the country tomorrow. In Jaipur, we are holding a Maha Rally against on Tuesday.”

“IMA Haryana has come in support of the doctors in Rajasthan and they have announced a daylong bandh of Healthcare services across the State on April 04, 2023,” Dr. Sunil Chugh informed Medical Dialogues.

Recently a meeting of service doctors from different states of the country was held on 02 April. Organized by Chhattisgarh In-Service Doctor’s Association (CIDA), the doctors discussed the stand of service doctors regarding the RTH Bill of Rajasthan.

While the service doctors have expressed their solidarity with the doctors of Rajasthan, they have also decided that until effective communication and connection is made between all the states, no decision can be taken at the national level on any issue.

Expressing the need for a physical meeting of the Service Doctors’ Association, it was decided at the meeting that any kind of decision would be taken only after physical meeting of doctors.

Meanwhile, IMA headquarters has recently written to Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra on the issue of the Right to Health Bill in Rajasthan. Writing to the Governor, IMA mentioned, “The medical fraternity in Rajasthan is in turmoil. Right to Health has been a dream and demand of Indian Medical Association. A truncated version of such a historic initiative has left the doctors behind. Right to Health included in the directive principles of the constitution has been enunciated in a Bill unacceptable to the doctors of the state. Right to Health like right to education was to be operational on the Government of the day. It was never the responsibility of the private doctors and hospitals. It entailed substantial investment in Public Health infrastructure and Human Resources. The current version is a surrogacy where the Government is passing on its responsibility to the doctors who practise independently and their institutions.”

“Apart from the moral depravity such a legislation would end up in creating mayhem in the casualties and be an incitement to violence. The financial burden on the fragile institutions is likely to end in collapse of the private health care delivery system . We wish to point out that these private doctors and their institutions have played a vital role in several Health Care initiatives of the Government. We would humbly submit that the right to practise a profession or carry on a trade also flows from the Constitution,” it further added.

“Moreover several discrepancies and lack of clarity could be found in the current Bill passed by the Legislature in a hurry. The intent of the Government and its willingness to work with the private doctors and hospitals have not found appropriate expression in the Bill. A Right to Health Bill which ought to have been a celebration for the doctors has left them in the streets. The medical fraternity of the entire country is deeply concerned. In the given circumstances Indian Medical Association humbly appeals to you to return the Bill to the lawmakers for a reconsideration. We are obliged for your favourable indulgence in this issue involving the survival of autonomy and entrepreneurship of the medical profession,” mentioned the letter.

Copy of Letter written to Shri @KalrajMishra ji
Honourable Governor of Rajasthan regarding The Rajasthan Right to Health Bill , 2023 & Note on palpable inconsistencies in the said Bill pic.twitter.com/poQmdEW8vv

— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) April 2, 2023

Also Read: Rajasthan doctors strike- Rajasthan Medical council intervenes, demands details of striking doctors

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