Docs threaten to stop work from Aug 17 to protest new code

Published On: August 14, 2018 08:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, August 14: Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the professional organization of doctors, has threatened not to see patients from August 17, when the new criminal code comes into implementation in the country.

NMA has demanded immediate amendment of the Criminal Code 2017, stating that this law has categorized doctors as criminals. The new code has provisioned three to five years in prison for the doctor concerned as well as a fine of Rs 30,000 if a patient dies because of doctor's negligence ."If a patient dies in course of treatment, the doctors are accused of being criminals," said Dr Dhundi Raj Paudel, NMA senior vice-president and ethical committee member of the Nepal Medical Council (NMC), the apex body of doctors.

"Doctors always try to save lives. If we are accused of killing patients, we have no option but to refer them elsewhere even in emergency cases."The doctors have announced that they will hand in their aprons and medical licenses to NMC. "We cannot provide treatment to patients as we will be accused of killing them," said Dr Paudel. "If the law is not amended, we will not see patients from August 17 onwards," he added. "Doctors should be treated under the Civil Code, not under the Criminal Code."According to the new law, doctors will be arrested upon the registration of a complaint.

However, a doctor will be taken into custody only after the accusation is unheld under the Civil Code. There are over 21,000 doctors registered with NMC, according to the NMC officials.Issuing a press statement on Monday, Dr Lochan Karki, general secretary of NMA, said that the new law was formulated without understanding of the technical issues and in contravention of international norms and values. "We believe in the rule of law but we are disheartened by such a controversial law, and we condemn it," she said

"Health workers are categorized as criminals in the new law," it says. "Health workers are not gods. We use available resources and capacity to save patients' lives. If despite our dedicated attempts a patient dies and the doctors are blamed, what kind of health service is being sought ?"

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