Docs’ strike hits patients hard

Jhapa, August 23:

The doctors’ and health workers’ agitation here has thrown medical services into total disarray, with patients being forced to either return disappointed or venture into India for medical treatment.

The medical sector here is on strike to protest the manhandling of a doctor in the Damak-based Lifeline hospital and vandalism there after a patient Geeta Subba died last Saturday. Subba’s relatives and locals had gone on a rampage alleging negligence on part of the concerned doctor and the hospital staff.

Health workers of the Mechi zonal hospital are on a strike since Tuesday, demanding action against the guilty and security for health professionals. All services except emergency are on hold in hospitals and private clinics.

The Jhapa chapter of the Nepal Medical Association has given a 24-hour ultimatum to the administration to take action and provide security to health workers. Dr Balram Mishra of the Mechi zonal hospital said: “The administration and the eight political parties must find an immediate solution to the problems plaguing the medical sector. Patients are being deprived of medical services.”

Several persons said anger is mounting among locals at the prolonged medical strike and the probability of their ire taking a volcanic shape against the striking medicos cannot be ruled out.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical dealers have hit the streets saying that the prices of saline water and Cetamol must be scaled back and the medicine import-export directive must be withdrawn. They have threatened not to deal in either Nepal-made medicines or imported medicines.

Jhapa CDO Jay Mukund Khanal said, “There is an agitation mania gripping the country. Every group thinks that it can steamroller its way by launching an agitation.” The Damak municipality has formed a committee under its executive officer to probe the Lifeline Hospital incident. CDO Khanal said action would be initiated after the probe panel submits its report. He added that talks were also on with the agitating health workers to bring the situation back to normal.