Kolkata: Protesting against new rural course introduced by the Centre for the appointment of doctors in rural areas, the doctors related to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) are expected to go on a nationwide strike on February 16.

Giving information about the strike, newly appointed Chairman of IMA, Bengal branch, Dr Ram Dayal Dubey said, “A detailed discussion was held in a meeting on December 27 at IMA Central Council in Bengaluru after which it was decided that if the government does not withdraw its new course, the doctors associated with IMA across the nation would go on strike on February 16.”

The doctors are opposing the three and a half year course ‘Bachelor of Rural Health Care’ introduced by the Union government.

There are about 6.5 lakh doctors in the country of which 55,000 are in West Bengal.

Dr Dubey, who attended the IMA meeting with a 15 member team representing the state, said, “Dividing doctors on the basis of cities and villages is unacceptable.” He questioned, “Is there any guarantee that the doctors appointed in villages after completion of the course will not express an interest for practising in cities?” He also doubted the course’s credibility in training expert doctors.

The IMA has also extended support to the striking doctors in Rajasthan. Speaking in this regard, Dr Dubey said, “The demand raised by the doctors of Rajasthan is justified.” They are protesting against unequal wages and are demanding equal salary like their counterparts in other states. The Rajasthan government must pay immediate attention to their demands, he added.

Notably, more than a week of medicos’ strike in Rajasthan has crippled health services in the state claiming about 65 lives so far. The doctors are demanding equal wages and timely promotions.