Around 2,800 private doctors in the Saurashtra-Kutch region struck work for a day on Monday to protest harassment by civic officials who have been raiding their clinics after the death of 62 patients in the state in February-March due to the suspected use of infected syringes.
"Private physicians in Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Upleta, Junagadh, Jamnagar and Bhuj have proceeded on strike to protest harassment by municipal officials even when doctors have complied with medical waste disposal rules in the region," Atul Pandya, a spokesman of the Rajkot Chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), told IANS.
The 62 Hepatitis B deaths took place in north Gujarat, but civic officials have been raiding clinics and hospitals all over the state for medical waste disposal compliance.
Pandya said fines worth hundreds of thousands of rupees had been collected by the municipal authorities in the Saurashtra-Kutch region in the past week from doctors even when their hospitals and clinics had a clean record of safely disposing of medical waste.
"We have asked some of our members not to join the strike in their respective regions and remain available at hospitals for emergency duty. There is no question of any patient suffering in the hospitals during the strike," Pandya claimed.
Doctors in Government-run hospitals in the region have not joined the strike.
The state government in a directive on Monday asked the superintendents of government hospitals in the Saurashtra-Kutch region to closely monitor the strike situation and offer help to patients at private hospitals in case of emergency, a senior health official in Gandhinagar said.
More than 100 tonnes of medical waste has so far been seized in Gujarat from the cities of Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat in the past 12 days.