In-service doctors to sport black armbands as protest from Monday

In-service doctors to sport black armbands as protest from Monday
NIDA members during the press conference in Kohima. (NP)
Correspondent KOHIMA, JAN 22 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/22/2021 12:41:43 PM IST

Nagaland In-service Doctors’ Association (NIDA) members will sport black armbands from Monday onwards in protest against the State government’s lack of response to their demands.

Announcing this at a press conference at Hotel Japfü here on Friday after an emergency meeting, NIDA president Dr E Phyantsuthung said the association had issued and reissued several memorandums to the government asking it to implement the commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He recalled that, citing shortage of doctors in the country, Modi had during his speech at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on May 25, 2016 declared raising the age of retirement (superannuation) of government doctors from the present 60 to 65 in order to meet the shortfall of doctors faced all over the country.

He claimed that this decision has been implemented in every State, including the North-eastern States. However Nagaland was yet to implement this and the State government had cited vague reasons as to why this could not be implemented, he disclosed.

The NIDA president said the association had submitted a memorandum to the government in 2017, but did not follow it up due to several problems plaguing the State then as NIDA thought it would be wise to not pursue the issue then. Thereafter, the general elections of 2018 followed, he pointed out.

He explained that the issue thus remained unresolved, even as COVID-19 pandemic broke out for which the doctors had to focus on the pandemic.

Phyantsuthung said as the government failed to respond to another NIDA memorandum submitted in October 2020, the same memorandum was resubmitted on January 7, 2021, which also went unheeded. 

“All these have forced us to register our resentment against the State government by putting on black arm-bands while carrying out our daily duties at our respective places of posting,” he remarked.

And staying true to its motto “Service to Humanity”, he said NIDA would ensure that no healthcare activities were disrupted during the entire duration of the symbolic protest, adding that all doctors would carry out their regular duties.

“Everyone has been eagerly waiting for the ongoing vaccination drive and therefore we will ensure our full support to it,” he assured.

According to another doctor, the current doctor-population ratio in Nagaland is 1:2,318, which is clearly much below WHO’s prescribed ratio of 1:1000 and a clear indication that the State is in dire need of qualified doctors.

He said NIDA presently had 1,118 members, out of which 223 are inactive because of reasons like health issues, retirement, maternal leave, etc, and that effectively left only 895 doctors catering to the need of the whole State.

After the two proposed medical colleges in the State become functional, 300 doctors (150 each) would be absorbed into them and the State would plunge into further crisis, throwing the entire healthcare delivery system into chaos, he warned.

NIDA members stressed that enhancing the present age for superannuation would be beneficial for the State in the short term as there would be lesser financial implications owing to lesser pension withdrawals and fewer new appointments, both of which usually posed a great burden to the State exchequer.

The association said its future course of action would depend on the State government’s response and decided only after thorough consultation with its representatives in all the districts.


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