The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Islamabad, continued their strike for pay raise, revision of service structure and regularisation of contract doctors on Friday. However, confusion over the actual head of the association and validity of negotiations with the representatives of the government mar any progress on the issue.
A team of doctors from Polyclinic Hospital led by Dr Mohammad Ajmal, went to meet with Federal Secretary Health Nargis Sethi and discussed their concerns with her.
However, talking to The Express Tribune, President YDA Islamabad from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Dr Sajid Abbasi denied the forum’s meeting with the Ministry of Health.
“We got an invitation from the health ministry for a detailed discussion on our issues, but we refused. We asked them for a proposal to indicate how much was the government willing to do for us,” he said. The doctor added that whoever met the secretary, did so at their individual level.
Meanwhile according to a press release issued by Ministry of Health, the Secretary Health in a meeting with YDA Islamabad on Saturday said the ministry was aware of the difficulties being faced by the doctors who are rendering a great service to the nation and often work in the most challenging of circumstances.
She promised to take up the demands of the doctors with the authorities including the Ministry of Finance and sought time to respond on each demand after seeking the opinion of the all concerned departments. She added that she will be able to give initial feedback on the issue within the next four days.
The secretary said while they respected the position of the doctors, they had a larger responsibility of ensuring that patients did not suffer. She expressed regret and concern over the immense suffering that the patients had gone through during the strike and called upon the delegation to immediately call off the strike in the larger interest of the people who continue to be affected by suspension of all medical services in the hospitals.
Upon assurances by the secretary, the young doctors of Polyclinic Hospital agreed to consider calling off the strike. A response in this regard will be given to the Ministry of Health on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Dr Ajmal denied of their agreement to call off the strike on Saturday.
“We have told the Ministry of Health that we will have a meeting with all YDA members of Islamabad on Saturday at 12pm and take a decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Abbasi said the strike in Pims will continue till they get a notification from the ministry regarding their demands.
Moreover, on Friday the emergency ward of Polyclinic Hospital was shut down for two hours (4-6pm) in protest against the Dental Surgeon Dr Naeem. The physician had given treatment to the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary in the Out Patient Department, at around 3:30pm during the strike. This irked the patients at the emergency ward of the hospital but the issue was soon resolved.
An important question, which is pertinent to the current issue, is over the actual head of YDA Islamabad. The ambiguity results from both Dr Mohammad Ajmal from Polyclinic and Dr Sajid Abbasi from Pims claiming to be the forum’s president.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 02nd, 2011.