Resident doctors across Karnataka are holding a symbolic protest to remind the government of what they say are deficiencies in the medical education department. The doctors claim that the government is using their services for Covid-related work due to which their has been no proper clinical academic activities in their post-graduate courses for which they are still being charged fees in lakhs.
"We, the post-graduates, have been working exclusively in this Covid services for the past nine months. We have been repeatedly exploited in this Covid services. They did not appoint other doctors. We have come here to learn, to make our skills better, but we are being pressed into Covid services," Dr Namrata, a post-graduate doctor participating in the protest in Bengaluru told NDTV,
The doctor complained that there have been no proper clinical academic activities happening statewide since the pandemic.
"Only thing being taught here is Covid, Covid, Covid. What about our surgical skills? What about our other skills? The government has failed to think about the future of the post-graduates. We have learnt nothing in the last nine months, but still we have paid fees in lakhs to the government," she said.
Dr Dayanand Sagar, President, Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors, said that the doctors have been paying lakhs in fees despite no academic activity.
"When government can waive fees for schools and other educational establishment - we are paying lakhs. One lakh twenty thousand for post-graduates, two lakh twenty thousand for super-speciality residents. How can they expect us to pay? We are just working. There is no academic year because of Covid," he said.
He added that the goverment is using their services inorder to cut costs. "Government is saying they will increase internship by another 3 months. It is a trick by the government to make them work at a lesser price. There is no need for extension," he added.
Alleging that their services have not found any recognition from the government despite several hundred of them contracting the virus, the doctors are now asking for a Covid allowance.
"We want Covid allowance. About 700 resident doctors have been affected across Karnataka. But no recognition is being given by the government - no fixed amount. Whatever the government feels like, they can give," said Dr Sagar.
"There are some resident doctors for whom stipend has not been paid across the state for about 5 to 6 months," he added.
The protesting doctors are holding empty coconut shells in their hands to symbolise what they say is the lack of response from the government.
"We want the government to listen to us and fulfil all our demands," said Dr Sagar.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Congress has extended support to the doctors' protest. "We stand by the resident doctors. We stand by the Covid warriors. The Congress party stands by them and their demand on the internship issue and fees. We will support them," arnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said.