IMA calls for white-alert, urges doctors to light candles in protest against attacks
New Delhi, Apr 22: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded the Centre bring in a law on urgent basis to protect medical professionals from attack on duty, amid rising incidents of violence against healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
Calling for a nation-wide 'White Alert', the IMA has asked doctors and hospitals across the country to light candles on Wednesday as a protest against such attacks.
"Light a candle with white coat. White Alert is only a warning," the IMA said in a letter addressed to its doctors and hospitals.
"The Covid-19 has only made us acutely aware of our helplessness against mindless abuse and violence. Stigma and social boycott are everywhere. Harassment by administration is nothing but violence by the state.
"Our legitimate needs for safe workplaces have to be met," it said in the letter to all State Presidents and Secretaries, Local branch Presidents and Secretaries and all National office-bearers along with past National Presidents and Past HSGs.
The doctors' body also warned that they will observe 'Black Day' if no action is taken by the government and doctors in the country will work with black badges on April 23.
Further decisions will be taken if suitable steps are not taken by the government even after Black Day, the IMA said.
"The IMA has maintained utmost restraint and patience in spite of extreme provocations. Doctors have been abused, beaten up, denied entry and residence. Obstruction to cremation is the last straw that IMA can bear."
"If dignity is denied even in death, our patience and restraint lose their value," it said.
"We demand a special central law against violence on doctors, nurses, health care workers and hospitals by an ordinance," the doctors' body said in their letter.
Several incidents of violence against medical professionals have been reported from different parts of the country during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a poignant incident in Chennai, an orthopaedic surgeon had to bury his associate, a neurosurgeon who died of COVID-19, in the middle of the night using his bare hands and a shovel at a crematorium with the help of just two hospital wardboys after the undertakers fled when a mob, protesting the internment, attacked them.
Their opposition was due to a misconception that the contagion may spread in their neighbourhood if the body is buried there.
The windscreens of the ambulance, in which the body of the 55-year-old neurosurgeon was brought to the crematorium on Sunday night, were smashed.