Rajasthan RTH Bill: Medical College Teachers Association joins ongoing strike

“On 29.03.2023 there will be a complete boycott of general outdoor, general OT and academic work,” said the Medical College Teachers Association of Rajasthan 
Pic: Sourced
Pic: Sourced

The ongoing strike in Rajasthan against the Right to Health (RTH) Bill by the medical community intensifies as the Medical College Teachers Association of Rajasthan joins the movement. Yesterday, on March 28, 2023, the association convened to decide on a complete boycott of academic activities and general outdoor patient services. "On March 29, 2023, there will be a complete boycott of general outdoor patient services, general operating theatre services, and academic work. In the interest of patients, services will be provided in the emergency and ICU as usual. Private consultations at self-residences or self-operated clinics or test centres will remain closed continuously," states the association's official statement.

To recall, the medical community in Rajasthan has been protesting against the Right to Health (RTH) Bill since it was introduced in the State Assembly last year and it escalated further since it was passed on March 21 of this year. The protests have been ongoing with numerous demonstrations and strikes demanding either a rollback of the bill or proper amendments. Recently, the protest also got violent with the police lathi-charging the protestors. “It was highly unprecedented and the most brutal attack on doctors I have seen in my 30-year career,” said Dr Raj Shekhar Yadav, State Convenor of the United PRivate Clinics and Hospitals Association of Rajasthan (UPCHAR), when he last spoke to EdexLive. 

The Bill proposes to provide the residents of Rajasthan with the right to access free emergency healthcare services from hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, including private establishments. However, many in the medical community believe that the bill has too many loopholes and will eventually disrupt the delicate relationship between doctors and patients. "They need to revise it, especially when it comes to what constitutes an emergency," says Dr Amit Yadav, a resident doctor at the Sawai Man Singh Medical College, Jaipur, and the former president of the Resident Doctors Association in Jaipur.

The Right to Health Bill allows local politicians to file lawsuits against doctors in cases of negligence, and patients can also file lawsuits if they are refused emergency treatment. The doctors believe that the definition of "emergency" in the act is not well-defined, leaving them vulnerable to litigation. Additionally, according to Dr Yadav, there is no provision for doctors to appeal against such lawsuits, which is a major concern. "Every crime has a provision for appeal, so why can we not appeal against these cases?" he asks. 

On March 20, over 2,000 doctors took to the streets of Jaipur to protest against the bill, and since then, the strike has only grown stronger. Today, the Teachers Association has also joined the movement, demanding that the "pending demands of the doctors and teachers" be fulfilled promptly.

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