Ahmedabad: More than 28,000 doctors in Gujarat on Wednesday joined the 24-hour nationwide strike against the passage of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill 2019 in Lok Sabha, which seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI).
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had given a call for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services across the country against the NMC bill, dubbing it "anti-poor, anti-student and anti-democratic".
"We believe that more than 28,000 doctors in Gujarat have joined the strike on Wednesday beginning 6 am," according to the Gujarat chapter of IMA.
"This is not a full-fledged strike. We expect that 28,000 doctors in Gujarat have joined the strike from today morning in solidarity with agitating doctors across the country," said Dr Kamlesh Saini, state secretary, Gujarat Chapter, IMA.
While the Gujarat IMA claimed majority of the registered doctors joined the strike, officials at Ahmedabad civil hospital, the largest facility in the state, said the strike did not have any major impact on services.
"Civil hospital is functioning as usual. Our doctors have not joined the strike. It is up to the doctors to join the strike or not. Doctors associated with the government-run hospitals have not joined the strike," said civil hospital superintendent M M Prabhakar.
The IMA, the largest body of doctors and students in the country with around three lakh members, had called for demonstrations and hunger strikes at its local branches and urged medical students to boycott classes and proclaim solidarity with IMA. It had warned in a statement it will intensify agitation if the government continues to be "indifferent to their concerns".
The IMA had said the NMC Bill would enable non-qualified persons to practice medicine like qualified doctors. "The Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practice modern medicine.
The term 'Community Health Provider' has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practice modern medicine. This law legalises quackery," it had stated.
The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday as thousands of doctors protested across the country against it. The bill provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of MCI for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.