Resident doctors in Karnataka wore black bands to work today in a symbolic protest against recent violent attacks on doctors in the state.
The doctors are demanding better security and safety measures for those working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Dayanand Sagar, President of the Resident Doctors Association, said: "Three incidents of violence on doctors have triggered us. Doctors are risking their lives by treating Covid patients but just look at the attacks that have happened in the last week in Karnataka."
He said an official in Bidar district of the state recently attacked workers with batons while doctors at the KC General Hospital in Bengaluru were attacked by the family members of a patient who formed a mob and also vandalised the hospital.
In Belagavi, an ambulance was set on fire even "when the government is running short of resources," the doctor added. "These examples will reduce the morale of working doctors. It makes us think -- what comes first? My own care or patient's care? Doctors should not be put into a situation where they have to make a choice. It has always been patient first."
Dr Sagar said defective quality masks and PPEs are being provided in some institutes. "Many doctors have been infected by the virus and have died. Karnataka takes the highest fees for PG residents, but pays the lowest stipend."
The resident doctors are demanding that senior doctors work alongside them, rather than just supervise, during this pandemic. They are also not keen on hiring final year MMBS students. "Why should we follow hierarchy in a pandemic when we are running short of doctors? All doctors should work equally in a common pool," he said.
A resident doctor, Dr Namrata, said: "What is more cruel than the coronavirus is the disorderliness of this administration towards the pandemic. The public who is getting treatment from doctors is blaming doctors who are frontline warriors. We are putting our life at stake by treating the patients. But the public coming as a mob is putting our morale down. We want proper security and safe working conditions so we can give our best to the society."
She said the doctors have also not received increased stipends which too "puts our morale down."
Karnataka has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases with over 80,000 being reported in the state so far.