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511 patients died due to doctors’ strikes in Bihar
Published on 27 Dec. 2009 1:17 AM IST
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Repeated strikes by Bihar doctors in the last four years have claimed the lives of 511 patients, but the state government has no plans to cancel the licences of agitating doctors despite a recommendation by the state human rights commission (SHRC). “The doctors have gone on strike nine times in the state during the last four years,” official sources said. The reasons ranged from demanding a hike in the stipend to protesting over a fight with patients’ relatives. “I mentioned the number of deaths due to doctors strike in the state legislative council Tuesday,” Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav said. The year 2009 has seen two strikes and 239 patients have died till date, according to official figures. Of this, 178 patients died during the strike from Nov 9 to 21 at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH). In August, 61 patients died during a doctors’ strike at the same hospital. On both occasions, 500 junior doctors demanded payment of the increased stipend promised to them. A total of 250 doctors of the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) also went on strike, in support of PMCH junior doctors’ strike. In 2006, 59 patients died during the strike, followed by 81 deaths in 2007. In 2008, 132 patients died. Stating that there were thousands of qualified doctors in the state, Indian Medical Association (IMA) Bihar unit president Ramesh Prasad Singh said: “A few hundred doctors in government-run hospitals, including PMCH and DMCH, went on strike”. The state government has no plans to cancel the licence of the striking doctors, as suggested by the SHRC following the November strike, the health minister said. However, SHRC chairman Justice (retd) S.N. Jha said the commission was still of the view that the state government should take stern action against the doctors if they resort to strike, as directed by it in November last. “We will not tolerate human rights violation of poor patients by doctors in the name of strike time and again,” Jha told IANS. The SHRC did not absolve the state government of its responsibility either, saying the strike was a cumulative effect. The commission said the government delayed taking a decision, precipitating the strike. A government official said: “The state government made no serious effort to end the strike”. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi or top government officials hardly made any statement on the strike.

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