Despite the call of Ministry of Health and Population and Ministry of Home Affairs to withdraw the strikes, the doctors continue their strikes all over Nepal.
Since September 26 following the assaults on doctors and vandalism in Pokhara, Chitwan and Lalitpur on the same day on September 25, residents and graduated doctors have shut down all the services, except for emergency cases in protest.
Doctors rejected the assurance from the Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure a safe workplace and action against the assaulters.
"The protest will continue until our three demands are met. The first is the effective implementation of 'jail without bail' against assailants and vandals,” said doctor.
The second demand is the formation of a coordination committee comprising of the hospital chief, chief of a nearby police station, representative of Civil Society or Consumer Rights Protection Committee and a legal practitioner to ensure a safe workplace," read a statement by the struggle committee.
The third demand is the formation of a high-level committee to study the causes of assaults on health workers and recommendations to prevent and mitigate such incidents. As per the struggle committee, the government should implement every recommendation from the committee.
Speaking at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for Health on Friday, Minister for Health and Population Mohan Bahadur Basnet said that the government was positive regarding the doctors' demands. "The government will deploy armed security personnel at hospitals if needed to ensure a secure environment for health workers," he said.
The committee also directed the Minister to address the demands of the agitating doctors and create a safer workplace for them.
The Ministry of Health and Population has also directed every health centre to install a board with details on punishment against assailants and vandals in a conspicuous manner.
Doctors have also demanded an amendment to the Security of the Health Workers and Health Organisations Act, 2010. "Punishment and fine against assailants should be increased to three years and Rs. 300,000 respectively. Both imprisonment and fine should be enforced against such assaulters," the struggle committee demands.
Currently, the punishment for those who assault health workers is a fine of Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 20,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month to one year or with both punishments according to the gravity of the offence.
The doctors have also demanded a provision that ensures action against security personnel for not providing security to health workers and institutions during assaults and vandalism.
A police inspector, who is now suspended, was seen calming vandals of Manipal Pokhara College of Medical Science (MpCOMS) on September 25 saying that the doctors were beaten to a pulp by the security forces.
Responding to an agreement made public on Thursday stating that the doctors of MpCOMS had postponed the protests, resident doctors there stated that the agreement did not involve them.
Doctors Society of Nepal, a group of resident doctors, has also called for a mass rally from Maitighar to New Baneshwor on Saturday, September 30. It has been supported by the struggle committee.
Issuing a notice on Friday, the Nepal Medical Association has also shown solidarity in all the protests launched by the struggle committee and has demanded the government fulfil the demands without delay.
Minister for Health and Population, Mohan Bahadur Basnet, has urged protesting doctors to pull out their agitation expressing the government's commitment to taking action against those involved in mistreating doctors and health workers.
In the meeting of the Education, Health and Information Technology Committee under the House of Representatives today, the minister urged the agitating doctors in this regard. Lately, investigations into maltreatment against doctors in four hospitals are underway, he informed. He also expressed the government's pledge to ensure security of doctors.
"The government is serious about a long-term solution to this problem. The Ministry of Home Affairs has launched investigations into four incidents of mistreatment of doctors lately. I urge protesting doctors to withdraw and return to work," he said.
The process of adding quotas of positions for health workers has proceeded to resolve most of the problems in the heath sector, he informed. "A lack of quotas of posts for health workers is main factor behind most of problems taking place in the health sector. The process of adding quotas is underway. Prime Minister is positive about it."
The protesting doctors said they were forced to take to the streets for their security. They demanded action against those involved in the incident at the Manipal Teaching Hospital. The Committee President Bhanu Bhakta Joshi said a long-term solution would be sought after launching a field-investigation into the mistreatment against medical professionals. The Rising Nepal/ RSS