With more than 2,000 medical interns from 18 medical colleges across the state continuing with their indefinite hunger strike for the second day, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday promised a decision on their stipend on Wednesday.
“Seven out of 117 of our colleagues who are on hunger strike have been hospitalised. Four are still admitted in the medical intensive care unit, while three are in the wards at KEM Hospital. However, we are firm and won’t call off the strike unless our demand is met,” said Dr Vijay Bonde, general secretary, Association of State Medical Interns (ASMI). “We have given time till 3pm on Wednesday to the government. In case our demand is not met, we will make our movement stronger.”
A team of medical interns on Tuesday met the CM along with Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray. “The CM has given us an assurance that he will discuss the issue with the health minister and medical education minister and give us his decision tomorrow,” said Dr Mayur Ambekar from Sion Hospital and coordinator of ASMI.
After 24 hours of hunger strike, when condition of these interns started deteriorating, they were forcibly taken by the police and admitted in the hospital, said one of the interns. At the hospitals, work is being managed by resident and senior doctors so that patients are not affected. “The pressure on senior doctors has now increased but services have not been affected,” said a medical officer from KEM Hospital.
Medical interns who currently earn a monthly stipend of Rs2,550 want the amount to be raised to Rs13,000 a month. There are around 2,060 medical interns in the state.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has decided to actively lend its support to the strike if the issue is not resolved by Wednesday.
On Tuesday evening, over 900 medical interns gathered at Kamgar Maidan near KEM Hospital, Parel, for a candle march. “Few more medical interns joined us today from Pune, Nagpur and Kolhapur government medical colleges,” said Ambekar.
The state government had increased the stipend from Rs1,700 to the current Rs2,550 after interns went on statewide strike in 2009 . As an intern, one has to manage emergencies in hospitals by rendering basic care, assist in medical and surgical procedures and work in peripheral areas.