Over 3,500 government doctors in Bihar, including 1,500 on contract, went on two-day strike from Monday midnight after two rounds of talks with the state government failed.
The strike called by Bihar Health Services Association has paralysed the working in hospitals and public health centres across the state.
Defending the strike plan, BHSA general secretary, Dr Ajay Kumar said, "More than 80 per cent posts of doctors are lying vacant. So why are contractual doctors and dentists not being regularized by conducting walk-in interviews on the lines of Haryana? In states like Punjab and Haryana and at the Centre, a contractual doctor gets above Rs 50,000 as monthly salary, but in Bihar it is Rs 30,000 for an MBBS doctor. A regular MBBS doctor at the Centre gets Rs 60,000 but in Bihar he/she gets merely Rs 25,000," said Kumar.
"Due to poor infrastructure and lack of availability of medicines, doctors are unable to do their duty properly. In turn, they have to bear the wrath of the people," said BHSA spokesman Dr Ranjeet Kumar. He said while in other states, minimum eligibility for appointment of a doctor is MBBS degree and one-year internship, in Bihar one should have done an additional two years' service in rural areas.
The association has warned the government to go on indefinite strike from February 14 if the doctors' demands were not met by then.
The Bihar chapters of Indian Medical Association and Indian Dental Association, as also Contractual Doctors' Association have supported the strike call.
Bihar health minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey has warned the doctors that the government will not remain a mute spectator and take stern action if people's interest suffered due to the agitation.
Choubey said that the state government is ready with alternative arrangements during the strike.
District magistrates and district civil surgeons have been directed to take stringent action against those disrupting medical services in government hospitals and initiate action against such doctors.