A doctor’s fight for COVID-19 risk allowance

Published On: April 6, 2021 03:40 PM NPT By: Ashim Neupane

Dr Mallik says he will continue his protest unless he gets paid for his hard work in difficult times

KATHMANDU, April 6: “My COVID-19 risk allowance is lost. If found, please contact me,” a pamphlet carried by Dr Ajit Mallik reads. Dr Mallik, a medical officer at the New Baneshwar-based Civil Hospital, has been protesting alone at Maitighar with the same pamphlet for the last 12 days, demanding his COVID-19 risk allowance.

Dr Mallik protests alone at Maitighar after his duty hours, demanding the COVID-19 risk allowance for the period he worked during the pandemic. “I have been protesting alone with this pamphlet for the last 12 days. I come to Maitighar after my duty hours. I just want my risk allowance for the time I worked during the pandemic,” said Dr Mallik, who was protesting at Maitighar on Tuesday.

Dr Mallik, who worked at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital and Civil Hospital during the pandemic, is yet to receive the allowances for almost eight months. “I worked for four months at TUTH, and almost for four months at Civil Hospital. I am yet to receive the risk allowance for this period,” said Dr Mallik.

Even though it has already been 12 days since the protest, neither the hospital administration nor the Ministry of Health and Population has contacted or reached out to Dr Mallik for inquiry. “I am fighting for my rights. I will continue my fight until I get my risk allowance,” said Dr Mallik, who believes only a single person is enough to fight against the “bad system”.

Even before starting his protest, Dr Mallik did not consult his colleagues and senior doctors. “I did not discuss with my friends and seniors before starting my protest. After contacting the finance departments of both hospitals several times, I felt injustice as I did not receive payments for my work during difficult times,” says Dr Mallik.

Although Dr Mallik protests at Maitighar for about an hour every day, he does not compromise his work. “I am a medical professional. My patients must always be my top priority and I always attend to calls, and if I get calls or messages from my patients or hospital, I rush to treat my patients,” says Dr Mallik with a smile on his face.

When asked if he is the only one to not get the allowance, Dr Mallik said, “I only know about myself. Others might have got their allowance, or they might not have. But I need my risk allowance. It is my right, and I am fighting for it,” said Dr Mallik, adding that being exploited by employees and not raising voice is a crime.

While working during the pandemic, Dr Mallik was also infected with the virus. Despite working tirelessly during the pandemic, the Civil Hospital administration did not insure him against COVID-19. “I had reached the hospital administration asking for a COVID-19 insurance cover several times. There was no positive response. Later, I was infected,” said Dr Mallik.  

“I returned to work the next day after I completed my isolation period. I worked hard during the pandemic. Am I begging for extra money?” questions Dr Mallik, adding: “If not, where is my money?” 

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