The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre, the Health Ministry and the Law Ministry on a petition seeking steps to protect doctors and medical professionals from physical attacks.
The petition has been filed by the Tamil Nadu chapter of the Association of Healthcare Providers (India) or AHPI. It has been filed on behalf of 56 private hospitals in Tamil Nadu. The petitioners sought directions from the apex court to the government for taking immediate action against people attacking medical professionals and causing damage to medical establishments.
“Small and medium-sized private health care establishments, which provide the bulk of healthcare services, are isolated, disorganised and vulnerable to violence. Violence against health service providers is only a manifestation of this malady,” claimed the petition.
A bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana and Ajay Rastogi issued the notice and sought response from the Centre and other concerned ministries. The petition was filed through senior advocate K. Subramanian.
“As per the ongoing study conducted by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), more than 75 per cent of the doctors across the country have faced at least some form of violence in the past,” said the petition.
The petition claimed that India faces a unique problem of growing violence against doctors, which arises from meager government spending on healthcare resulting in poor infrastructure and human resource crunch in government hospitals.
It said that only 1.3 per cent of the GDP is directed towards healthcare in India.
“As per the Universal Health Coverage NHP (National Health Policy) 2017, 4 per cent of GDP should be allocated for health. This data does not reflect that health is a priority for the country,” said the petition.
Incidents of violence against doctors are reported nearly on a daily basis across India, some resulting in grievous injuries. The Prevention of Violence Against Medicare Persons and Institutions Acts, which have been notified in 19 states in the past 10 years, have failed to address the issue, contended the petitioners.
The petition also claimed that in the absence of any positive action by the local police, the medical fraternity has become a soft target for the hooligans, leading to serious repercussions on patient care. It is the main reason why doctors are reluctant to serve in the rural areas.