Doctors strike for lack of staff disrupts hospitals in Delhi

A protracted strike by doctors in New Delhi against staffing shortages at state hospitals has crippled medical services, creating fears of disaster if the Omicron variant overwhelms hospitals. health facilities.

Medical students from across India joined the protests, which intensified two weeks ago and became angrier after police officers were seen beat the junior doctor in a march on Monday.

The New Delhi government has expressed concern about the growing number of coronavirus cases and announced new measures, including night curfew, to slow the spread of the virus. While the country’s overall case count remains low, daily infections in the capital region have increased. more than 300 percent over the past two weeks, according to the World in Our Data Project at the University of Oxford. It is unclear how many new cases are of the Omicron variant.

As the doctors’ strike continues to drag on, involving tens of thousands of the more than 70,000 doctors working in government facilities across the country, emergency medical services have been impacted. heaviest.

Video from major state hospitals in New Delhi have shown patients lying on stretchers unsupervised outside the emergency room. Many Indians have to resort to state-run medical facilities for care because of the high cost of treatment in private hospitals.

The protests were triggered by delays in getting medical school graduates into jobs in government medical facilities, as India’s Supreme Court considers an affirmative action policy to increase the proportion of places reserved for underrepresented communities. The opposing doctors say they are not against the quota, but want the court to expedite its decision so graduates can start their work.

Transparent Catastrophic coronavirus wave in India Earlier this year, doctors and other health care workers found themselves deprived and deprived as they battled an outbreak that at its peak killed 4,000 people a day. Doctors’ associations say that more than 1,500 doctors have died from Covid since the pandemic began.

Protests continued across the country and outside major hospitals in New Delhi on Tuesday, a day after police officers in the capital arrested more than 2,500 protesting doctors who were walking towards residence of the Minister of Health of India.

India’s health ministry said it was saddened by the treatment of doctors during Monday’s protest, but said it could not proceed with employment positions while the matter was being heard in court. the highest level in the country.

Dr. Suvrankar Datta, an official of All India Federation of Medical Associations, a group of doctors supporting the strike, said that as coronavirus cases increase in New Delhi and other parts of the country, there will not be enough doctors to handle the crisis.

“We have informed the government many times that the healthcare infrastructure is understaffed like never before,” he said. If graduates don’t find jobs quickly, he added, it will create “an absolutely catastrophic situation where cases increase”.

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