Doctors under rebel fire in Manipur

May 27th, 2008 - 3:49 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Anbumani Ramadoss

Imphal, May 27 (IANS) After security forces and politicians, doctors are on the firing line of separatist rebels in northeastern India’s Manipur state, affecting healthcare in the area bordering Myanmar, hospital authorities said Tuesday. The Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), the state’s best-known speciality healthcare facility, has been closed since Monday doctors and paramedics refusing to work after a bomb explosion within its premises late Sunday.

The bomb attack, set off by a timer device, was carried out by the Kangleipak Communist Party-Military Council (KCP), one of Manipur’s 17 or more active insurgent groups. There was no casualty. The KCP has since claimed responsibility for the attack but gave no reason for hitting out at a medical facility.

The RIMS staff had staged a sit-in Monday to protest the attack.

“Doctors and nurses will attend to the in-house patients but not admit fresh patients during the strike,” RIMS Medical Superintendent Y. Mohen Singh said. RIMS authorities have decided to perform only emergence life-saving surgeries.

The blast took place near the Institute’s Microbiology department which is close to the director’s office.

RIMS sources said a caller identifying himself as a KCP member made an extortion demand a week ago. RIMS authorities would not confirm this immediately.

Only last fortnight, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who became the country’s first health minister to visit Manipur in 30 years, had said: “I promise to make RIMS the best in the region and one of the best in the country in two to three years.”

Ramadoss also announced free treatment at RIMS for people living below the poverty line. The minister said MBBS seats at the institute would be increased from 100 to 150 this year and a 100-bed fully-equipped cancer centre would be set up at RIMS.

However, morale among the institute staf has dropped precipitiously since the bomb attack.

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