KATHMANDU, Sept 4: On the second day of the protest called by the Nepal Medical Association (NMA), the professional organization of doctors, the administrative works were partially affected at the hospitals and health facilities across the country on Monday although the doctors had previously decided to halt all but emergency services.
It partially affected registrations at Out Patient Department (OPD), according to the different hospital sources.
“The OPD patients were registered and administrative works ran as usual here today,” said Dr Mandira Wanta, director at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH).
According to the TUTH, about 1,700 patients come to the OPD at the hospital every day.
The NMA has urged the government to amend the Clauses 230, 231, 232 and 240 of Criminal Codes 2017 immediately, saying that the law has categorized the doctors as criminals. The codes have provisioned three to five-year imprisonment to a doctor as well as a fine of Rs 30,000 if a patient dies due to doctor’s negligence.
The first day protest of the NMA paralyzed the health services except for emergency all over the country on Sunday, affecting thousands of patients as the doctors staged protests demanding amendment to the new law, which came into effect from August 17.
There are about 500 hospitals including private, and additional around 4,000 public health facilities in the country.
The NMA submitted over 6,000 licenses of doctors to the Nepal Medical Council (NMC) on Sunday to protest against the new law.
There are over 21,000 doctors registered with the NMC, according to the NMC. However, only about 11,000 have been practicing now in the country, according to the NMA.
As per the protest schedule of the NMA announced on August 31, the administrative works at health facilities were to be halted on Monday (September 3). The admission of patients except at the emergency unit will be stopped from September 4 while all but emergency surgeries will be stopped from September 5.
Similarly, radiology and lab services except emergency will be shut down from September 6. The NMA has planned to shut down all but emergency services from September 7 indefinitely if the law is not amended.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Population called NMC and NMA representatives on Monday to discuss the agitating doctors’ demands and possible solutions.
“We put forth our demands to the Minister of State for Health Dr Surendra Kumar Yadav,” said Dr Dhundi Raj Paudel, senior vice president of the NMA and ethical committee member of the NMC.
“The ministry will look into the demands and forward them to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary, which should send them to the cabinet for approval,” Dr Paudel said, adding that they would not neglect the patients despite their protests.