Forty-nine degree certificates shuttling between the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for one week has brought the country’s premier hospital to a near standstill.
Only a fraction of the over 7,000 patients visiting AIIMS outpatient’s department (OPD) every day are expected to be treated, with most resident doctors going on strike beginning Thursday.
The resident doctors are protesting the fact that they have not been awarded degree certificates for two years; the last convocation ceremony was held in February 2005. While doctors are blaming the delay on Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss for not signing the certificates, his ministry says AIIMSDirector P Venugopal is at fault.
“The degrees have been with the ministry for just eight days, but the hospital administration has been sitting on them for two years. How can they blame the ministry?” says a ministry official. Ramadoss announced the convocation date on Wednesday after meeting Venugopal in Parliament. He said the resident doctors should be asked not to hold the patients at ransom.
But the announcement that the degrees will be awarded on September 25 did not appease the resident doctors. “Some of us have to go abroad to study in the first week of September. We need the degrees before that,” said one. Since the last convocation, only students applying for further studies abroad have received the degree certificates. “Last year, only students going abroad got the certificates. Those studying in India make do with provisional certificates,” said Dr Anil Sharma of theResidentDoctors’Association.