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Patients bear brunt of docs’ strike

  • Hundreds of thousands of patients across country deprived of medical services as doctors refuse to budge
- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Sep 26, 2017-Hundreds of thousands of patients across the country were deprived of health services for the fourth consecutive day on Monday due to an ongoing strike by doctors who are protesting against a government plan to introduce a new law that aims to “rein in negligent medical practitioners”. 

According to a rough estimate, around 400,000 patients visit the outpatient departments of hospitals and clinics every day.

Chandra Kishor Sah, 43, of Bairiya, Rautahat, who had reached the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) on Monday for his back pain and stomachache, said, “I was initially asked to go to the emergency ward.

But doctors at the emergency ward said that I should consult a physician. I want to see a doctor and return home to celebrate Dashain.”

Sah said his family members are living in a makeshift shelter after floods in mid-August swept his home away. He is increasingly concerned about running out of cash if he has to extend in Kathmandu. 

Kumar Tamang of Tarakeshwar, Nuwakot, who was at Bir Hospital for persistent discomfort in his hand and leg, also could not meet the doctor on Monday. “I came to Kathmandu thinking I could consult a specialist doctor. But I was told by doctors that I should visit the hospital after their protest is over,” he said. 

As hundreds of thousands of patients like Sah and Tamang bore the brunt of the medical strike, the agitating doctors reiterated on Monday that their protest would continue. 

“We have been left with no choice than to shut the services,” said Dr Lochan Karki, general secretary of Nepal Medical Association (NMA). 

A Cabinet meeting on September 18 decided to introduce a new law to hold doctors accountable for the death of a patient or any other health complication during the treatment and make the concerned medical practitioner pay compensation.

The move largely stems from frequent reports of clashes and scuffles in hospitals whenever a patient dies while undergoing treatment.

In most of the cases, the kin promptly accuse doctors of negligence, which NMA, the umbrella organisation of the medical practitioners in the country, refutes.

On many an occasion, doctors have been attacked and hospitals have been vandalised. 

Protesting against the government plan, doctors have not only shut hospitals across the country since Friday but also upped the ante, demanding that the government ensure doctors’ safety by putting in place a provision as per which anyone attacking a doctor or a health facility should be sent to prison without giving that person a chance of bail. 

A government statement on Friday that it has not taken any decision that goes against the doctors has failed to placate the medical practitioners. 

Cabinet fails to find solution

KATHMANDU: An emergency Cabinet meeting called on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in the health sector failed to come up with any solution. Monday’s Cabinet concluded with a decision that the issues raised by the Nepal Medical Association would be addressed after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returns home from his foreign trip.

PM Deuba is scheduled to return home on Thursday. The NMA in a statement said that Monday’s Cabinet meeting “has urged the doctors to call off their protest” but has failed to make any commitment towards addressing its demands. (PR) 

Published: 26-09-2017 08:06

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