Call of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, April 1, 2018
Doctors and medical students all over the country are organizing a dharna on April 2 in their hospitals and medical colleges. They are organizing under the banner of the Medicos Youth National Action Council (MYNAC) consisting of all medical student organizations and resident doctors’ associations.
Doctors and medical students have been agitating against the privatization of medical education and hospital care. They have been opposing the terrible conditions in government hospitals, overcrowded and with crumbling infrastructure, where young doctors are forced to work long hours without a break, dealing with long lines of patients.
The government has turned a deaf ear to these concerns. Instead, the government has been pushing ahead with the agenda of further wrecking medical education and government hospitals.
The aim of this wrecking agenda is to completely turn medical education and hospital services into a “for profit” business. This agenda, proposed by the Niti Ayog, will be implemented by a new National Medical Commission (NMC) which the government plans to set up. The process of turning health care into a “for profit” business has already begun, with private hospitals ruthlessly fleecing people in the cities and towns. According to the government, the NMC will be a body for “regulating medical education and practice”, replacing the Medical Council of India (MCI). In fact, the mandate of NMC will be to supervise complete privatization of medical education and health care.
Students all over the country are justly demanding that fees in medical colleges be regulated. The government is pushing in the direction of eliminating all regulation in the fees charged by private medical colleges. It is proposing that up to a maximum of 50% of seats in private medical colleges can be “regulated”. For the rest of the seats, the management can charge fees as it pleases. Recently, the Uttarakhand government gave the green signal to private colleges in the state to charge whatever fees they want. Immediately, one of the colleges in the state increased the fees from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 19.7 lakhs per year! Second year students have to pay, in addition, the “arrears” of the previous year. Students of this college are sitting on dharna against this move.
Students are opposing the proposal of the NMC Bill for a compulsory exam after graduation, called NEXT, which they will have to pass in order to be eligible to practice. There is no justification for such an examination. Already, students in medical colleges carry out arduous study, to pass their internal exams.
Anyone who has visited the OPDs or Emergency services of our government hospitals will have the highest regard for the doctors and nurses performing these services, working under enormous pressure, dealing with hundreds and thousands of patients. The vast majority of our people have great faith in doctors. The vast majority of doctors carry out their work selflessly. At the same time, when patients die, their families sometimes tend to vent their frustration on the doctors instead of blaming the poor conditions in the hospitals. There have been several incidents of physical attacks on doctors in government hospitals.
Doctors have been long demanding that the working conditions in government hospitals be improved, that number of doctors and nurses in these hospitals be greatly increased, and that more government hospitals must be set up to deal with the vast number of patients. Instead of addressing these concerns, the NMC Bill proposes criminal prosecution of doctors for “clinical errors”.
Doctors and medical students have been carrying on a month long campaign to make people aware of the problems faced by them. A padayatra by doctors starting from Kanyakumari, culminated in a mahapanchayat at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Delhi on March 25. Over 25,000 doctors participated in it and opposed the NMC bill. Earlier, over 10,000 doctors staged a protest on February 6 in Delhi, marching from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to the Parliament House, opposing the NMC Bill. Resident doctors and senior doctors from AIIMS-Delhi, Safdarjung Hospital, Post Graduate Institute (PGI)-Chandigarh, Aligarh Muslim University and several other institutions took part.
Under pressure from the struggle of doctors all over the country, the Union Cabinet has made a show of changing some of the provisions of the NMC bill. However the essence of the bill remains to privatise medical education and health care further.
India has one doctor per 2000 people against the standard of one doctor per 1000 people set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Further, the shortage of doctors in rural districts, and in the less developed states of the Union, is extremely acute.
It is the responsibility of society to ensure that our future doctors are able to study in the best institutions. It is the duty of society to ensure that children from families of working people are not prevented from joining the medical profession simply because of the exorbitant fees charged by private medical colleges, which are 30-40 times the fees charged in government colleges.
It is the duty of the state to ensure good quality and adequate health services to the people at affordable rates. Instead, the Indian state has opened up the health sector for the biggest foreign and Indian monopoly companies, to make maximum profits out of the miserable health conditions of our people. The rulers of our country have no concern for the health needs of our people or for the conditions in which the majority of doctors in the government hospitals and health centres are compelled to work.
The anti-social program of privatization of health care must be stopped and reversed. The government must establish more medical colleges so that affordable medical education of the highest quality must be provided to all youth aspiring to become doctors and serve the people. The state must ensure that there are adequate and well-equipped hospitals, accessible to people in every part of the country. It must ensure that these hospitals have adequate number of doctors, capable of dealing with the health problems of the people, and other required staff and services. It must ensure proper conditions of work for the doctors, free from fear of prosecution or physical attack, to serve the health needs of the people.
Communist Ghadar Party fully supports the just struggle of the doctors. We call on people of our country to unite and step up the struggle for a health care system that works in the interests of the people and not to enrich a minority of capitalist crorepatis.