After 14-Day Protest Over Delay in Medical Exam Counselling, Doctors Call Off Strike in India

© SputnikDoctors at Sir Ganga Ram Protesting against Delay in NEET-PG counselling
Doctors at Sir Ganga Ram Protesting against Delay in NEET-PG counselling   - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
Doctors in India have been protesting for 14 days over the delay in medical exam counselling. The delay has been caused by an ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging reservations for economically weaker sections for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses.
Doctors in India protesting over the delay in National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Postgraduate) (NEET-PG) counselling called off their 14-day strike on Friday.

The NEET-PG is a qualifying and ranking examination for students who want to pursue postgraduate courses in medical studies in India.

The decision was taken after a meeting between the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA), the association leading the protest, and the Joint Commissioner of Police (CP) of Delhi.

While talking to the media, FORDA president Dr Manish Nigam said: "Last evening we met the Joint CP of Delhi. The Delhi Police have initiated the process of quashing the F.I.R. (police complaint)".

The quashing of the police complaint against the doctors who held a protest march towards the Supreme Court of India on Monday was one FORDA's demands.

Protest March at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

On Thursday, consultants, resident doctors, and about 200 Diplomate of National Board (DNB) students of Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital organised a protest march to express their solidarity with the doctors protesting across the country over the delay in NEET-PG counselling.

The Diplomate of National Board (DNB) is a postgraduate degree awarded to specialist doctors in India after completion of three-year residency.

Dr Chahat Verma, a third year DNB resident, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told Sputnik: "We took out a symbolic protest march with placards and [we were] wearing black bands to show solidarity with the other doctors protesting across the country".

"This delay in counselling of NEET-PG is not only adversely affecting our future career but also interfering in long-term patient care. It is sad that over 40,000 doctors have been left in the lurch for almost 12 months now", she added.

© SputnikDoctors at Sir Ganga Ram protesting against the delay in NEET-PG counselling
Doctors at Sir Ganga Ram protesting against the delay in NEET-PG counselling  - Sputnik International, 1920, 31.12.2021
Doctors at Sir Ganga Ram protesting against the delay in NEET-PG counselling
She also claimed that no patients' services suffered due to the protest march.
The march came after FORDA on late Wednesday evening said that the doctors' strike would continue.
In a statement on Wednesday, FORDA said: "Following a meeting with FORDA representatives at Nirman Bhawan (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) yesterday, the Honourable Union Health Minister addressed the media on the matter concerned...".

"..Since our demands for expediting NEET-PG Counselling & withdrawal of FIR have not been met by the concerned authorities yet, we have decided to continue the agitation".

Stalemate Continued Despite Federal Minister's Assurances

On Tuesday, Indian Health and Family Welfare Minister Mansukh Mandaviya met with representatives of the protesting doctors and urged them to call off the strike.
Later, during a press meeting, Mandaviya said the government was unable to go ahead with the counselling as the matter is under judicial consideration. "The government is taking all requisite steps and a suitable reply with respect to the EWS report will be submitted to the apex court before the next date of hearing on 6 January 2022".
"We request the court to expedite the issue so that the counselling can be started at the earliest", the minister added.
On Thursday, talking to Sputnik, FORDA President Dr Manish Nigam had said: 'The health minister has shared through the media that the government will try to ensure that the date for the counselling can be finalised on 6 January. But now fast-tracking NEET-PG is the only demand of the doctors".

"Now we want a written apology from the Delhi Police for the action taken on the doctors who were protesting silently. We also demand that all the complaints filed against the doctors should be quashed", he added.

Asked about how the protest will continue, he said that from now on they would protest at different hospitals every day.
On Wednesday, a plea was also filed in the Supreme Court seeking advancement of the scheduled hearing in a case pertaining to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in NEET-PG admissions.
On 9 December, the nationwide strike called by FORDA was suspended for a week after the federal health minister gave an assurance to doctors that the government would approach the top court to fast-track the hearing in the ongoing case.
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