General strike (also known as hartal) is used as a mode of protest by organizations and political parties in India. It is generally thought that hartals negatively impact the healthcare delivery in a society. We used the Right to Information Act to obtain data from government health centers in Kerala state in India for four hartal days (H-day) and two control days (A-day and B-day) for each H-day, from sixteen health centers including 6 Community Health Center (CHC), 6 Secondary Health Center (SHC), and 4 Tertiary Health Center (THC). Data on emergency room visits was available for six HCs. 15 HCs had a statistically significant decrease in the number of outpatient visits on H-day. There was no difference in the number of outpatient visits between the two control days (A and B) in 15 HCs, suggesting the lack of a posthartal surge in visits. Median decrease in outpatient visits in CHCs, SHCs, and THCs was 50.4%, 59.5%, and 47.4%, respectively. Hartal did not impact the number of emergency room visits in 6 out of 7 health centers assessed. Our study identified a significant harmful impact on government healthcare delivery due to hartals in Kerala. These findings have major public health implications.

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Published in Journal of Environmental and Public Health, v. 2016, article ID 8096082, p. 1-6.

Copyright © 2016 Aasems Jacob et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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