Doctors staged a massive protest in Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur, today. This comes on top of the state’s eighth consecutive day of a strike by doctors working in private medical institutions. Thousands of doctors from across Rajasthan gathered in Jaipur and marched from the SMS Medical College.
Notably, the Indian Medical Association has backed the state’s protesting doctors, and the IMA has declared today, March 27, to be a “Black Day.” Further, the IMA has called for a nationwide shutdown of medical services.
The strike and protest are in response to the recently passed Right to Health Act.
The bill, which was approved by voice vote in the Rajasthan Assembly on March 21, grants every resident of the state the right to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment of any requisite fee or charges” by any public health institution, health care establishment (including private ones), and designated health care centres.
A ‘health care establishment’ is defined as the entire or any part of a public or private institution, facility, building, or place that is operated to provide health care.
Earlier, on March 26, Sunday, the Rajasthan government met with a delegation of striking private hospital doctors. Government officials reportedly assured the doctors of a detailed discussion on their suggestions over the proposed law. The protesting doctors, on the other hand, demanded that the bill be withdrawn because it is ‘unconstitutional’ and will increase bureaucratic interference in the operation of private hospitals.
The meeting was held on the instructions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
‘Chief secretary Usha Sharma and other officers were present in the meeting. During the meeting, Sharma said the bill has been introduced to further strengthen the rights of the people of the state to their health. The chief secretary also assured the delegation of a detailed discussion on their suggestions,’ a release said.
The secretary of the Private Hospital and Nursing Home Society, Dr Vijay Kapoor, however told reporters after the meeting that their demand for the withdrawal of the bill will continue.