The resident doctors have called off their five-day strike after inking a six-point agreement with the government on Saturday night.
The doctors were protesting, bringing a complete halt to health services, except emergencies, across the country for five days. According to the protesting doctors and government representatives, health centres across the country will be providing services as usual from Sunday.
The six-point agreement, including an end to the recent strike, was signed by Dr. Sheshraj Ghimire of the Struggle Committee for a Safe Workplace for Health Workers and Dr. Dipendra Raman Singh, acting secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
DPM Shrestha and Health Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet, had been urging the agitating doctors to return to work since Wednesday assuring them of legal actions against assailants and vandals.
Kaski District Police also arrested seven more of the assailants and vandals on Saturday, and DPM Shrestha, who is also the Home Minister, assured strict action under the Security of the Health Workers and Health Organisations Act, 2009. It has also been stated in the second point of the six-point agreement.
“The Act will be effectively implemented and the workplace for doctors in Manipal Pokhara College of Medical Science and other health centres across the country will be made safer. The health worker and health organisation security coordination committee will be made more active,” read the first point of the agreement.
The agitating doctors had put forth a three-point demand during their protest. One of them was to amend the Security of the Health Workers and Health Organisations Act and increase the punishment and fine against assailants to three years and Rs. 300,000 respectively.
As per the third point of the agreement, the process to make the amendment will be initiated within a week by the Ministry of Health and Population. The amendment has been sought as necessary citing an increase in the number of assaults on doctors and vandalism in health centres.
The data from the Nepal Medical Association (NMA) shows that 65 doctors were assaulted across the country in the last fiscal year 2022/23. Only recently, nine health workers were assaulted and at least half a dozen health centres were vandalised in a two-week period after September 13.
As per the fourth point, a study committee will be formed under Dr. Singh, comprising representatives from the Home Ministry, Finance Ministry, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, Labour and Social Security Ministry, Medical Education Commission, Nepal Medical Council, Nepal Medical Association, and the Struggle Committee for a Safe Workplace for Health Workers.
The committee will be formed within 15 days and will be tasked to give a recommendation report to improve services to all health workers and provide them with equal benefits as other civil servants.
On the other hand, a high-level committee is said to be formed within 10 days with the task of submitting a report in three months with recommendations on necessary policy and legal changes to put an end to the assaults on health workers.