As the ongoing protests by doctors in Rajasthan against the Right to Health (RTH) Bill enter their ninth day, the situation is set to worsen, with even government hospitals joining the strike from tomorrow.
Doctors of the Sawai Man Singh hospital have announced that they will join in the strike from 29 March, Wednesday. Emergency and ICU services will continue to run however, they said.
This development threatens a total breakdown of the health system in the state.
Despite widespread protests by doctors in Rajasthan against the Right to Health (RTH) Bill, State Health Minister Parsadi Lal Meena made it clear that the Ashok Gehlot government would not withdraw the bill under any circumstances.
On Monday, Meena conveyed the government's stance, declaring their readiness for discussion if any issues with the bill arise, but emphasizing that it will not be taken back at any cost.
Meena accused the protesting doctors of exploiting the situation, stating that the RTH bill was enacted after thorough deliberations and has already brought benefits to the people of the state. The Health Minister stressed that the government has met all the demands presented by the protesting doctors and that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has urged them to resume their duties.
Furthermore, Meena pointed out that the bill was reviewed by a select committee before being passed and reassured that the government would recruit additional doctors and take necessary measures if the protests persist.
CM Gehlot said the interests of the doctors have been taken care of in the bill and that their agitation is not justified.
Private doctors and hospitals in Rajasthan have opposed the RTH bill by boycotting work and calling on the state government not to enforce it.
On Monday, the protesting doctors organised a massive rally in Jaipur to voice their demands.
Today is their ninth day of protest, which has impacted health services in the state, with neither of the side relenting.
According to the Bill passed by the Assembly last week, every resident of the state will have the right to emergency treatment and care "without prepayment" at any "public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centres". This would include private institutions as well.
The doctors argue that rather than enhancing government healthcare services, the bill has shifted the responsibility onto private hospitals, which could result in a decline in the quality standards currently maintained by these private institutions.
(with inputs from news agencies)
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