Except for the emergency services, all the private and public hospitals across the country remained closed on Dec 13, as part of the protest against ‘frequent’ attacks on medical professionals. Medical professionals have been demanding that the government give them security and take immediate action against persons who abducted and physically assaulted Dr Gyanendra Giri and other medical professionals. Owing to political instability and the worsening security situation in the country, professionals, including doctors, have also been the target of attacks by criminal groups. Even worse, the impunity often enjoyed has made the occurrence of such crimes common with some people resorting to such activities for personal vengeance.

Nevertheless, the government has neither been able to take action against the perpetrators nor been able to improve the law and order situation. The impact that the frequent closures of hospitals can have on patients’ health is anyone’s guess. Sometimes, patients with serious medical problems have lost their lives for not being able to get urgent medical attention because of bandhs or doctors’ strikes. Therefore, there should be no excuse for medical professionals for overlooking their first duty: To treat the patients. True, the government should provide protection for doctors, other professionals, as well as ordinary citizens. Doctors and medical professionals should not strike at risk of public health or lives.