4,000 Kerala doctors on indefinite strike from Monday

Thiruvananthapuram, July 20 : Around 4,000 government doctors in Kerala will Monday sit on an indefinite ‘non-cooperation’ strike demanding immediate filling up of vacancies of specialists and ensuring supply of quality medicines in state-run hospitals. However, patients will not be affected as the members of the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) will continue to attend their duties at the various hospitals, KGMOA office bearer K.C. Ramesan told IANS Sunday.

Ahead of announcing the indefinite strike, the KGMOA had observed a token protest July 11, asking the state government to look into their demands. There are 1,281 health institutions under the Health Services Department in Kerala, which comprise primary and community health centres, and district and general hospitals.

As the state-run medical colleges come under the Directorate of Medical Education (DME), the strike will not affect the daily working of the doctors under the directorate. Ramesan said even though the doctors would be on strike, they would see that not a single patient is affected. ”We will not attend duties outside the hospitals, including training programmes, VIP duty, holding camps, but all of us will be taking care of our patients,” he said.

The Kerala government will deal with the non-cooperation in a “strong manner”, state Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar said Sunday. ”The strike will be dealt with strongly by the government,” he told reporters. As the first step, the state government declared that ‘dies non’ (no work no pay) would be applicable for those taking part in the strike. Meanwhile, the finance secretary has directed all treasury officers to ask for a certificate before clearing salary bills of medical officers stating that they have not participated in the strike.