The strike called by the medical college teachers association in Kerala has crippled the functioning of the government medical colleges, with patients not receiving any kind of treatment, even in the outpatient department of the hospitals.
However, rediff.com has found that using the pretext of the strike, many doctors have enhanced the hours of their lucrative private practice.
In Thiruvananthapuram, a leading cardiologist who is a professor of the Government Medical College in the city has started private practice at his home, as the strike gives him ample time for private consultations throughout the day.
Earlier, due to his commitments in the medical college, he could attend to only 50 patients, but now the strike allows him enough time to attend to as many as 150 patients everyday.
A number of nursing assistants and ward boys from the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College are acting as conduits for this doctor and these 'agents' are looked after by the medicine manufacturers and representatives of medical companies, who are in turn rewarded by the doctor who prescribes their medicines.
In a similar case, a popular neurologist of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College has also extended his private practice after the strike started. He is also being helped by nursing assistants and other supporting staff.
Incidentally, the activities of the surgery department in the medical college have come to a complete halt in the past three days, since the strike started.
The surgery department caters to an estimated four hundred patients everyday. Patients who travel several kilometers from interior Kerala for treatment are paying the price for the doctor's strike.
A senior officer in the state health department, who did not want to be named, said, "The doctors are a very powerful lobby and most of the time, the health minister and even the ruling Communist Party of India Marxist are forced to bend before the organised might of the doctors .The bureaucrats who are in charge of the department are relatively helpless before this organised lobby, which is widely supported by the cartel of medicine manufacturers and surgical equipment dealers, who are calling the shots in the health sector of the state."