The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday said that it will hold a peaceful protest from September 10 against Maharashtra government's decision to cap the charges of private hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients.
"With effect from September 10, all branches of the IMA will hold a peaceful protest in front of the office of the administrative officers in their region against the injustice done to doctors. (Collectors, Deputy Collectors, Municipal Commissioners, District Administrative Officers, Civil Surgeons, etc)," IMA said in a statement.
The statement said that a doctors' rally will be held at Azad Maidan, Mumbai and "proposals will be made to the cabinet as well as the legislature."
The medical association also said that on September 9 at 11 am, it will observe a 10 minute silence as a tribute to fellow martyred doctors. "On 9th September at 11 am, 10 minute silent tribute in the memory of the fellow martyr doctors, who died while doing their duties in treating Covid patients will be given by all the doctors by gathering in front of their own clinics or hospitals, with the masks on their faces." As per the medical association over 150 doctors engaging in private practice have died in this pandemic.
To mark the protest, all the IMA branches will display a symbolic hoarding or poster outside the branch office and burn the replicas of their Medical Registration Certificates. "On the same night from 8 pm onwards all the IMA branches will display a symbolic hoarding or poster outside the branch office or at a prominent place in their town or the city and all the members, one by one will light and keep one candle in front of the poster. All branches of Indian Medical Association in Maharashtra will burn the replicas of their Medical Registration Certificates at the branch office or at a prominent place," IMA said.
The IMA further added that for last six months, all the doctors in Maharashtra have been serving COVID-19 patients without taking any leave and without caring for their own lives. As a mass movement, the medical association said that doctors will self-quarantine themselves. "Just as many leaders and government officials in Maharashtra have made themselves 'self-quarantined', it is time for us doctors to be 'self-quarantined', as a mass movement. The separation period may range from one day to 14 days."
In April, the state government had mandated that private hospitals would have to allocate 20% beds for COVID-19 patients. Out of these, 80% beds are regulated by the civic body. Later, the health department issued a circular extending the duration of the price cap till November 30. The circular also stated that private hospitals can begin charging regular rates for the 50 per cent beds reserved for non-Covid patients, even as the government rates will be applicable to the remaining 50 per cent beds meant for COVID-19 patients.
The association of doctors has said that the doctors are being treated like criminals and the rates of the treatment rates at Covid Hospitals were fixed up unilaterally without discussing. "The treatment rates at Covid Hospitals were fixed up unilaterally without discussing it with the doctors or the hospital bodies, whether they are affordable or not. Because of these unaffordable rates the time has come that many private hospitals in the state are on the verge of closure on account of economical grounds," it said.