Dengue, chikungunya toll climbs: Nurses go on indefinite nationwide strike

New Delhi :Lakhs of nurses in government hospitals across the country are going on an indefinite strike from September 2 at a time when Delhi and several other cities are grappling with rising cases of dengue and chikungunya.

The nurses want redressal of issues related to pay and allowances.

“We are not happy with the response of the government and so we will go ahead with our proposed strike from tomorrow. But, we will attend to emergency and critical cases,” Spokesperson of All India Government Nurses Federation Liladhar Ramchandani said on Thursday.

Government hospitals in Delhi, which include those run by Centre, city government or civic bodies, employ about 20,000 nurses.

All major hospitals in Delhi, swamped by patients suffering from vector-borne diseases tried to reach a common ground with their respective nurse associations, but in vain.

“We tried to convince them but they are adamant about their demands. The ministry has assured them but they are not yielding. Also, so many people are suffering from dengue and chikungunya in this season, and we also asked them to defer the strike but in vain,” Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr A K Gadpayle said.

The hospital employs about 840 nurses of whom 236 are on contract. We have 300 resident doctors, so we will try to manage, he said, adding, “We are getting 15-30 dengue cases and 30-35 chikungunya cases daily.”

Ramchandani, also president of Delhi Nurses Federation, said their demands include raising entry level pay of nurses and allowances.

Safdarjung Hospital which employs 1,100 nurses including 160 on contract, has reported three dengue deaths there, all in the month of July. It has reported 263 dengue cases and nearly 250 chikungunya till August 29.

“Their demands about hike in pay scale are not genuine. Also, when people are dying of dengue, and chikungunya cases are going through the roof, you decide to go on strike,” Medical Superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, Dr A K Rai said.

Ramchandani said, “We nurses have deferred the strike twice and recently for one month after proposing it on August 2.”“But, if the ministry of health betrays us, we have no other option,” he claimed.

At least 487 cases of dengue have so far been reported in the national capital this season, with 368 of them being recorded last month. Eight deaths due to it have also been reported. At least 432 chikungunya cases have been reported in Delhi so far.

Till July 28, 9,990 suspected chikungunya cases have been recorded, with Karnataka reporting 7,591 cases. Also over 15,000 cases of dengue have been reported across the country this year.