Doctors sport black badges, shut non-essential services against Centre's decision to allow Ayush physicians to perform surgeries

The IMA, which is the apex body of allopathy doctors in the country, has demanded the withdrawal of the AYUSH ministry notification, saying integration of all systems of medicine would lead to 'mixopathy'

FP Staff December 11, 2020 21:12:05 IST
Doctors sport black badges, shut non-essential services against Centre's decision to allow Ayush physicians to perform surgeries

Doctors across the country observed a strike against the Centre's decision to allow Ayurvedic practitioners to perform surgical procedures. AP

Doctors and healthcare workers across the country joined the protest called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Friday against the Centre's decision to allow post-graduate Ayurvedic physicians to perform certain types of surgeries after training.

The IMA had called for the withdrawal of all non-essential and non- COVID-19 services between 6 am and 6 pm on Friday across the country against the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) decision to allow Ayurvedic doctors to conduct certain surgical procedures after the completion of their three-year PG course, said IMA office-bearers.

The IMA, which is the apex body of allopathy doctors in the country, has demanded the withdrawal of the notification. The IMA also said that the integration of all systems of medicine will only lead to "mixopathy".

Delhi

Many doctors at several hospitals in the National Capital, including AIIMS, sported black ribbons in support of the protest called by the IMA.

Doctors at AIIMS and various Delhi government-run facilities, including LNJP Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, DDU Hospital, GTB Hospital, BSA Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, and civic-run Hindu Rao Hospital performed duties while wearing black armbands and ribbons.

The Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of AIIMS-Delhi, in a statement said, "This step will not only encourage already rampant quackery, but also undermine the safety of public. We request the government of India to retract this notification immediately".

"We stand with our medical fraternity in this regard and support the strike called by Indian Medical Association," it said.

Shivaji Deb Barman, president of FORDA, an apex bodies of various RDAs in Delhi, was quoted by PTI as saying that doctors in Delhi will observe black ribbon protest, but "will not withdraw any services".

Gujarat

In Gujarat, over 30,000 doctors joined the nationwide protest, however, emergency medical services were scheduled to remain unaffected as they have been exempted from the purview of the agitation.

Dr Kamlesh Saini, secretary, IMA (Gujarat branch) said, "However, emergency services, including casualty, labour rooms, emergency surgeries, ICU and critical care service will continue. Over 30,000 of our member-doctors from Gujarat, including 9,000 from Ahmedabad, have joined the protest today."

"We demand withdrawal of the CCIM Act notification and the NITI Aayog committee for integration (of all medicine systems). We urge the government to take into account the grievances of doctors against this mixopathy. The IMA will continue its agitation till our demands are met," said Saini.

Mona Desai, a senior doctor from the city, said the government must not play with the health of people by allowing Ayurvedic doctors to do surgeries after a three-year course as principles of Ayurveda and modern medicines are different.

"The CCIM order says that post-graduate Ayurvedic students will be given some training about modern medicine during their 3-year course after which they can perform 58 different types of surgeries. Modern medicine doctors spend 8 to 10 years learning the same. So if that can be achieved in just three years, why are we spending so many years learning them?" Desai was quoted as saying by PTI.

Uttar Pradesh

Private hospitals, nursing homes, and diagnostic centres in Uttar Pradesh also observed the strike on Friday. However, government doctors were not part of the strike .

According to the Uttar Pradesh unit president of the Indian Medical Association(IMA) Dr Ashok Rai, 21,500 private hospitals, pathologies, diagnostic centres and private doctors in the state were set to observe the strike.

During this period, only treatment of COVID-19 patients and emergency services would remain functional, he had told PTI, adding that Indian Dental Association had also extended its support to the IMA.

Elaborating on the reasons for observing the strike, Rai said Ayush doctors have been given permission to conduct surgeries after taking a bridge course.

IMA office bearers will hold demonstrations in all the districts of the state, and hand over a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through respective district magistrates demanding withdrawal of this decision, he said.

The president of Lucknow unit of IMA, Dr Rama Srivastava, said that 271 nursing homes and private hospitals in the state capital, besides 6,800 private doctors, 350 diagnostic centres and pathologies were set to observe the strike.

All government hospitals in Lucknow have been alerted in view of the strike, a government spokesman was quoted as saying by PTI.

KGMU, SGPGI and Lohia hospitals have been asked to keep their services including OPD and emergency on alert.

Kerala

In Kerala, private as well as government doctors reportedly extended support to the IMA's call for boycotting out-patient clinics in the state. As a result, medical services were hit, PTI reported.

The 6 am-6 pm strike had caught many patients who had come to the medical college hospital in Thiruvananthapuram from neighbouring districts, unawares, the report added.

Many patients had come to the hospital in the morning. A man who had brought his mother, a cancer patient, from neighbouring Kollam district, said he was returning with no treatment to her.

"There were no regular OP services and elective surgeries. Only emergency and COVID-19 treatments were provided," IMA Kerala president PT Zacharias said. Doctors also took out a march to the state Raj Bhavan.

Goa

Around 1,500 doctors in Goa took part in the nationwide protest and they attended only the emergency cases as a mark of their protest.

"We had not planned any morcha or dharna due to COVID-19 restrictions. But all 1,500 members participated in the protest, as part of which they attended only emergency cases," IMA's Goa unit president Dr A Samuel told PTI.

An IMA delegation on Friday met Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, and submitted a memorandum seeking withdrawal of the notification that allows post-graduate practitioners of Ayurveda to be trained in performing surgical procedures, he said.

The IMA members had also met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on 8 December, urging him to look into the matter, Samuel added.

"The IMA has brought to the notice of the people concerned that it was disappointed with the steps taken by the central government to disrupt the modern allopathic system of medicine, which has been successfully functioning since the Independence," he said.

"We have high regard and respect for the alternative system of medicine under the AYUSH, and we encourage promotion of the same in pure form. But this decision is detrimental to the fragile health care system prevalent in our country, which requires a robust system to meet the day-to-day requirements of people," he said.

Maharashtra

Doctors affiliated to the IMA in Maharashtra kept the dispensaries, OPDs and clinics shut for some time on Friday in support of the organisation's call for protest.

"Doctors affiliated to the IMA across Maharashtra kept their OPDs, dispensaries and clinics shut for some time during the day as a mark of protest against the government's decision to allow post-graduate Ayurvedic physicians to perform certain types of surgeries after training," an IMA official said.

"However, emergency medical services were on," he said.

"Knowledge of diagnosis and medicines is one thing, but performing a surgery is altogether different. If anything goes wrong during the surgery, someone's life is at stake," he added.

Madhya Pradesh

Nearly 8,000 doctors, mostly from the private sector, observed the strike in Madhya Pradesh on Friday. The protest did not have much impact on the functioning of big hospitals in the state, PTI reported.

"Nearly 8,000 doctors across the state went on a strike. Most of them are from the private sector," IMA state unit vice-president Sanjay Londhe said.

"We are not against Ayurveda, but giving permission to them to perform general surgeries would lead to wrong practices which will directly affect common patients," he said.

Arunachal Pradesh

Lastly, doctors in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday also sported black badges and observed a token strike in support of IMA.

They, however, attended their usual duties and OPD and other medical services functioned normally, president of Arunachal Pradesh unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA-AP) Lobsang Tsetim said.

The IMA-AP did not go for the bandh call but wore black badges in solidarity with the central IMA. The decision was taken as Arunachal Pradesh has a limited number of doctors and a total bandh call could affect the healthcare delivery system, he said.

Opposing the government notification, the Arunachal Pradesh unit of IMA said that the mixing of streams of medicines in surgery is not only hazardous to the health of the general people but may also be fatal.

Tsetim also questioned who will be held responsible if a surgery by an Ayurveda graduate goes wrong. The association, however, has no issue with the practicing of medicine by Ayurveda students, he said.

The IMA-Arunachal Pradesh unit has also requested the state government to oppose and not implement the CCIM notification in the state and will seek its withdrawal.

With inputs from PTI

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