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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Medical college teachers call off stir - Doctor Victimised


# Crime Branch to probe case against doctor
# Panel to examine cases of medical negligence

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Doctors led by the Kerala Government Medical College Teachers Association called off their stir following assurances given by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy here on Saturday.

The doctors had been agitating over the manner of arrest of doctor P. Asokan of Kottayam Medical College on charges of negligence and corruption, following the death of a patient at the college hospital.

The Minister assured the Association during talks that norms specified by the Supreme Court and the Government in a circular issued last month would be followed. The investigation of the case against Dr. Asokan would be transferred to the Crime Branch. Besides, a State-level apex committee constituted to examine cases of medical negligence would inquire into the incident within 30 days and submit a report to the Government.

Ms. Sreemathy said the apex committee consisted of the Director of Health Services, Director of Medical Education, Additional Director (Vigilance) and Director General of Prosecution. There were district committees with the district medical officer, district Government pleader or prosecutor and a forensic expert to look into such cases at the district-level. However, the present case was being referred to the apex committee in view of complaints that the district committee would be influenced, she said.

The Minister said there was substance in the allegation of the doctors that the police did not follow the norms while arresting the doctor. The Government would ensure that the district committees acted promptly when similar cases occurred in future. Association president K.V. Raju and secretary R. Mahadevan said Dr. Asokan was initially arrested on charges of negligence. Subsequently, the corruption charge was added to strengthen the case. The Association would not support the doctor if corruption charge was proved, they said.

The doctors had gone on a State-wide token strike over the incident. Besides, the doctors of Kottayam Medical College were on a work to rule agitation. The Minister said the Government would soon provide extra doctors in community health centres and block-level primary health centres.

On the Government decision to go ahead with another round of pulse polio programme despite doubts being raised about the programme, she said the inefficacy of the oral vaccine had not been scientifically established.

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