Goal is to make India a global model for ‘Health for All’: Harsh Vardhan
Dr Harsh Vardhan began his second term as minister in the National Democratic Alliance – II government by cycling from home to the health and family welfare ministry in Nirman Bhavan to highlight the importance of physical activity for health and green transport for the environment. He had not even hopped off his bicycle when his staff informed him about a Nipah case being confirmed in Kerala, which was followed a week later by nationwide protests and strikes by doctors and health professionals after two junior doctors were assaulted at Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College in Kolkata. Dr Harsh Vardhan speaks to Sanchita Sharma on the firefighting his ministry has done over seven weeks and its plans for the next five years.
Doctors often work under stressful and difficult conditions and I strongly condemn assault against them. The violence in Kolkata that led to doctors’ strikes across the country gravely affected healthcare services. The health ministry has set up a 10-member committee on violence against doctors with representation from the ministry, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Federation of Resident Doctors Association, Medical Council of India, AIIMS, and the Union ministry of home affairs and the law department. The first meeting was on July 10th, during which the home and law ministries concurred on the need for a central legislation. It was decided to have the first draft of the proposed Act readied within a week.
I wrote to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, urging her provide a secure working environment to doctors. I also requested all chief ministers to consider establishing specific state legislation or bring amendments in existing state legislative acts to ensure doctors and clinical establishments function without fear of violence.