Govt. doctors withdraw agitation

2017.02.01

Decision follows the arrest of Kumar, a disability rights activist, who had staged a blockade

Doctors of Government Tiruvannamalai Medical College Hospital withdrew their agitation on Thursday, following the arrest of N. Kumar, a disability rights activist.

For the past two days, there has been a stand-off between activists and doctors in the town, following an incident at a disability certification camp in the District Collectorate on Monday, where activists staged a blockade against an assistant orthopaedics professor of the College, charging him with denying certificates to three persons with disabilities. The doctor, who was not allowed to leave, had fainted and was admitted to the hospital ICU. Later, another doctor provided the three disabled persons with certificates.

Since then, College doctors had been staging a dharna on the campus and had boycotted non-emergency services demanding the arrest of three persons and the police had subsequently booked E. Venkatesan, C. Ramesh Babu and N. Kumar as well as 15 unnamed persons.

‘Indefinite strike’

At a press meet in Chennai, disability rights activist S. Nambu Rajan called for the urgent training of government doctors in providing of certificates to persons with disabilities. He said the health department’s attitude towards the disabled was negligent. The assurances of the Health Secretary were not being followed. “If these issues are not sorted out by January 17, we will launch an indefinite strike,” he said.

Another activist T.M.N. Deepak said this was a larger, systemic issue. “The problem is that different government schemes and departments require us to keep obtaining certificates. One certificate does not work for everything which means people with disabilities have to prove their disability over and over again, not to mention the transport, costs and time involved. A professional approach towards disability certification is missing,” he said.

The Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association, meanwhile, said they were still demanding the arrest of the other two activists. “We will not go for camps held outside healthcare institutions. We are ready to do any number inside hospitals. For a long time, the guidelines on certification are not being followed and we have been pressured to give certificates without proper examinations,” said K. Senthil, State president.

S. Sridhar, district secretary of TNGDA, said the doctors had sent a set of demands to the Health Secretary through the Director of Medical Education that included linking disability certificates with Aadhaar to avoid a situation in which a person gets multiple certificates. They have also called for taking action against District Differently Abled Welfare Officer Srinath for seeking departmental action against R. Ragavanandham, the doctor who fainted at the camp.

Following the arrest of Mr. Kumar, persons with disabilities protested at the office of the Deputy Director of Health Services, demanding the case be withdrawn. However, Mr. Kumar was released on bail soon and the protest was withdrawn.

Source : The Hindu

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