HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal Medical Association (NMA), an umbrella organisation of medical doctors, today warned of stern protest if government fails to provide security.
The association showed serious concern about attacks on health personnel in recent days. Dr Bhupendra Kumar Basnet, general secretary of NMA said doctors would resort to protest if the government failed to investigate the attacks and take action. He said the government should investigate such attacks and punish the culprits.
“Physical attacks, vandalism and threatening had become a rule rather than exception in the health sector,” said the general secretary. He further added that the culture of extracting compensation from the hospital management had flourished.
Within a week, health personnel at BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Chitwan-based Asha Hospital and Chitwan government hospital had been attacked by the relatives of patients. Frequent manhandling and mistreatment that doctors and medical professionals have had to suffer has given rise to fear to carry out their duties. He asked the government to effectively implement the Health Professional Protection Act 2009.
After the Act was endorsed, the association has recorded more than 100 cases of attacks on medical professionals and health institutions carried out by relatives of those who died in the course of treatment in various parts of the country. In most cases, the agitators resorted to vandalism, alleging that their kin died due to negligence on the part of doctors.
The government has not investigated a single case till date said the general secretary. According to the act, anyone involved in picketing, misbehaving or manhandling medical professionals is liable to be slapped a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000. Likewise, those involved in vandalism, arson and any other disruptive activity in health institutions are liable to pay up to Rs 300,000 in fine and could be slapped one-year jail term or both, depending on the nature of the offence.
Dr Kedar Narsing KC, immediate past president of NMA said increasing impunity in society has encouraged attacks on medical personnel and institutions. He accused the government of becoming a ‘mute spectator’ who is unable to take any action against culprits.
Although, the government has introduced a separate Act with clear provisions for punishment, it has not been implemented effectively said KC. The Act subjects manhandling of health workers and padlocking and vandalism of health institutions to punishment. Doctors are ready to face punishment if they are wrong in their performance, added KC. Meanwhile, Nepal Cancer Relief Society also showed grave concern towards attacks against medical personnel. A statement from the society has asked the government to form a probe committee to investigate attacks at the earliest.