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Time to enact a Central Act for violence against doctors

Junior doctors in West Bengal are on a strike since Tuesday after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured at NRS Medical College & Hospital in Kolkata. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has directed the members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday.

A survey by the Indian Medical Association had earlier revealed that nearly 75% of doctors in India had faced some form of violence or threat of violence at some point in their careers. In several states, doctors have frequently gone on strike demanding stringent punishments for those who attack doctors. Others have written articles highlighting the need for better security and surveillance at hospitals.

Speaking about this, Dr K K Aggarwal, a Padma Shri Awardee and Ex-President of National IMA, said, “Today, the entire medical profession stands in solidarity with the doctors in the state of West Bengal. About four years back, when cases of violence against doctors were at their peak, the Government of India had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee, which had promised to soon enact a central Act for violence against doctors. But, sadly, this has yet to see the light of the day. It’s time that the medical profession unites and stands firm till the government brings a Bill for violence against doctors in the coming Parliament session. This is an urgent need of the medical profession.”

Dr Aggarwal, who is also President of Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, further said, “Violence against doctors should be made a non-bailable offence punishable with 7-14 years imprisonment on the lines of abatement of a murder because violence against doctor can end up with death of other unattended patients. The medical profession is not against accountability but no one has a right to take law in his or her hand. Every hospital and healthcare facility should identify high-risk violence prone areas in their establishment to be manned by adequate number of doctors, CCTV cameras and adequate security. Healthcare providers, who are victims of violence, must be adequately compensated. A Grievances Redressal mechanism should be established in every hospital, for patients or their relatives as well as for the healthcare providers.”

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