IMA Mahapanchayat on 25th March at Delhi

Dr KK Aggarwal

For over three years now, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has been fighting for the legitimate demands of the medical profession. And, each movement has been bigger than the previous.

The “Dilli Chalo” movement on the 6th of June last year to this end was a historical success and a milestone in the history of IMA. It was the biggest ever spontaneous congregation of doctors from all corners of India. In a follow-up to the Dilli Chalo movement, a dawn-to-dusk fast was observed throughout the country on October 2, 2017, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

Carrying the momentum forward to this year, IMA is organizing a one-month program, wherein the IMA National President Dr Ravi Wankhedkar is on a one month Yatra, which started at Kanyakumari on 25th February and will culminate in the Doctors’ Mahapanchayat in New Delhi on 25th March, when thousands of doctors will gather for the Doctors’ Mahapanchayat in New Delhi at Indira Gandhi Stadium.

IMA has planned a cycle rally on 11th of this month as a pan-India activity, where all IMA members across the country will be on the roads on cycles, scooters, motor bikes to raise awareness about health under the theme “Health First”. And also to make the public aware as to why IMA is opposing the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill in its present format.

There are two ways to fight for our rightful demands. One is by way of agitation, and the other is a peaceful protest.

All this time, IMA has been peacefully asking for its rights, the Gandhian way, except for a nation-wide 12-hour flash strike on 2nd January this year to protest against the NMC Bill. This strike was called off after the proposed NMC Bill was referred to a parliamentary standing committee.

The objective of IMA is to cross the collective consciousness. There are more than 10 lakh doctors in the country and IMA represents 30% of these doctors, which is beyond the critical mass of collective consciousness of doctors, 1% of 10 lakh i.e. 10,000 doctors only.

Incidents of violence against doctors are increasing. Instead of amending the IMC Act, the govt. is introducing the NMC, which replaces the MCI with another body, the National Medical Commission. It is taking away our professional autonomy.

The govt. is not implementing suitable amendments in CEA and PNDT Act. Criminal prosecution of doctors in clinical practice and allowing non-MBBS, non-BDS doctors to practice modern medicine via a Bridge course are other major issues that IMA is fighting for.

One call of IMA achieved the critical mass on 2nd January. One voice of IMA can paralyze healthcare services; however, this is not the intention of IMA as is evident from the various movements of IMA in this regard. The welfare of the patients are foremost for us.

The public should join hands with IMA to fight these issues as they are anti-people and anti-poor. All professional and non-professional associations and organizations should also join hands with IMA as they may face a similar situation sooner or later.

It is only through the timely and persistent efforts of IMA that the NMC Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

If the Bill goes through in its present format, the govt. will exercise control over the medical profession and we would be answerable to bureaucrats and others nominated members, with no medical background.

The Bill promotes crosspathy. Allowing Ayush doctors to practice modern medicine after just a 6-month Bridging course, can put the life of the patient in danger as they may not be able to accurately diagnose an emergency condition and give timely and appropriate first aid. This is also violates the MCI Code of Ethics Regulations, which allow only a doctor having qualification recognized by MCI and registered with Medical Council of India/State Medical Council to practice modern system of medicine or surgery (1.1.3).

The Bill also allows private medical colleges to fix charges for up to 60% of seats paving the way for ensuing corruption.

The issues that IMA has been raising concern every doctor in the country. There is a lot at stake here – public health and welfare, which may be put in harm’s way by the proposed unscientific mixing of pathies; we are on the verge of losing our professional autonomy.

We must not lose momentum and focus. These movements must continue till our goals are achieved.

I appeal to all doctors to participate wholeheartedly in these movements.

Let’s all be on the road on 11th March and also gather in large numbers at Indira Gandhi Stadium in a show of strength and solidarity.

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