Staff Reporter

To stay away from all field duties including immunisation programmes

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government doctors launched their no-cooperation strike on Monday, following the decision of Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) to go ahead with the strike call they had given in September, in protest against the government’s failure to give any assurance on the implementation of pay hike and speciality cadre. The doctors are staying stay away from all field duties, including immunisation programmes, family planning and welfare activities and national health programmes as part of their no-cooperation strike. They have also decided to stay away from Sabarimala duties and all work under the National Rural Health Mission. All doctors who are currently in service and are doing double shift under NRHM in Government hospitals will boycott it.

Long-term impact

The strike will not affect the day-to-day functioning of government hospitals as doctors will continue to run the clinics and perform ward duties. However, abandoning of field duties by the doctors could have far-reaching consequences for the State’s health indices.

Last year, the Government doctors had stayed away from field duties for nearly six months over the same issue. And Kerala cut a sorry figure when, at the national health programmes evaluation this year, it was found that it had fallen far short of its targets as far as the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and family planning programmes were concerned.

The State’s percentage of totally immunised children, which had always been close to 100 per cent, fell by about 40 per cent last year as a result of the doctors’ strike. Last year, many vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria and tetanus also made a come back as the immunisation activities took a back seat.

The government has, since 1995, issued seven GOs, announcing that the speciality cadre would be implemented. Finally, it was in July this year that it set up a 10-member committee to prepare a detailed report on the modalities for implementing the speciality cadre.

The Health Minister, P. K. Sreemathy, in a statement here said that the doctors’ decision to stay away from field duties, especially at a time when the State was just recovering from major epidemics, was not acceptable.