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Violence against doctors crackdown in Maharashtra

Indian Doctor standing with stethoscope on India flag background. National healthcare system concept, medical theme.The Maharashtra state chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced it will crack down on violence against doctors in the state, setting up a registry to record details of such instances to leverage in efforts to end the practice. 

The IMA reports that 75 percent of healthcare workers in India have been the victim of harassment, violence, verbal abuse, and/or intimidation whilst on duty. The Maharashtra chapter of the IMA, whose presence includes 43,000 doctors across 210 branches, aims to use the information collected in the registry to exert pressure on policymakers and authorities, enable doctors to identify repeat violators, and provide support to affected medicos. 

“There is a need to instil fear of law in [the] minds of people and establish deterrence to avoid violence in any form against doctors,” explained Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president of the Maharashtra chapter of the IMA. “The registry will serve this purpose.”

Bhondwe said that “the online registry has become active. We are using an internet-based application to collate and compile the data of such instances where a doctor has faced physical attack, abuse and intimidation anywhere in Maharashtra. It is a first of its kind registry in the country, prepared by IMA…an office-bearer of the IMA in each district will report every case against doctors, students pursuing medical education and even doctors not attached to the IMA. We have developed a systematic format in which information about violence has to be filled. We have told our office-bearers that every case in their jurisdiction should be reported within 24 hours.” 

At the national level, the Union Health Ministry proposed the Health and Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage of Property) Bill, penalising violence against healthcare practitioners with up to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh, as well as vandalism of healthcare facilities with up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. However, rollout of this legislation has stalled after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs rejected the draft law. The Health Ministry had intended to introduce the Bill during the Winter Session of the Lok Sabha.

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