Hospitals across Nepal shut down as doctors expand strike

Kathmandu - Hospitals across Nepal shut down Thursday after doctors expanded their strike to cover the entire nation to protest against assaults and threats against them.

The Nepal Medical Association, a doctors' umbrella organization, said hundreds of hospitals as well as thousands of private clinics and nursing homes had heeded its calls to shut down, leaving only emergency services open.

"We decided to extend the strike as the government failed to take our demands for increased security of doctors and hospitals seriously," the Nepal Medical Association said.

"The strike will continue until our demands are met and those responsible for assault on doctors and vandalism of hospitals are brought to justice," the association said.

The doctors initially called for a strike in the Nepalese capital on Wednesday and met with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to express their grievances.

The strike affected hundreds of thousands of people seeking medical treatment in both government and private hospitals.

Many people unaware of the strike were turned away from the hospitals.

The strike followed an incident earlier this week where the family of a patient who died after kidney surgery vandalized the hospital where he was being treated and attacked doctors.

The doctors said there was a growing tendency by people to vent their anger on doctors and hospitals if family members died during treatment.

They rejected accusations of negligence. (dpa)