The Balochistan Health Department has sacked 61 more protesting doctors on Tuesday for not ending their strike – a strike well into its second month – as the total number of sacked doctors reached a staggering 127.
However, doctors vowed to continue the strike until their demands, including pay raise and security assurance to on-duty doctors, are met by the provincial government.
The government has sacked the doctors under the Ordinance 2000 and announced that new doctors will be inducted through the Public Service Commission on an emergency basis.
“The sacked doctors were asked to resume their duties but they ignored the warnings. Those who are not performing their duties would be sacked because people are facing difficulties due to the strike,” said Balochistan Health Secretary Asmathullah Kakar.
“61 more doctors, including 57 medical officers of grade 17, two senior medical officers of grade 18 and two chief female medical officers, were sacked on Tuesday,” he revealed while adding that sacked doctors belonged to the Bolan Medical Complex and Sandeman Hospital, two major state-run hospitals of the provincial capital.
“Doctors at the Helper Eye Hospital and Fatima Jinnah TB Sanatorium are performing their duties and if there was any report of a strike, then they will also face the same fate,” he said.
The secretary said more names were coming from different hospitals, including district headquarter hospitals in interior Balochistan, where doctors are not performing their duties and had resorted to protest.
The Balochistan government is replacing the suspended doctors with new ones, as only the emergency wards of public hospitals in few hospitals are functional due to the province-wide strike.
Meanwhile, doctors held a protest rally and staged a demonstration in front of the Chief Minister Secretariat and raised slogans against the provincial government for not fulfilling their demands.
The procession was taken out from the Sandeman Hospital and after marching through different roads, the doctors held a demonstration in front of the Chief Minister Secretariat. The protestors blocked the Zarghoon Road and were carrying placards inscribed with slogans in support of their demands. The protesting doctors criticised the health minister and secretary for taking such extreme measures against doctors.
“Baloch and Pashtun nationalist parties are backing our strike and have criticised the sacking. Our demands are legitimate and we would extend our protest if the demands are not met immediately,” said Dr Abdul Samad Panezai, president Young Doctors’ Association, while addressing the protestors.
“We will not call off the strike and will extend it and even besiege the Chief Minister Secretariat and the Governor House if we have to,” added Panezai. “Doctors can not run their houses with these low salaries.”
Because the governor and chief minister were not present at their offices, no one from the government’s end came forward to hold talks with the protesting doctors. Police officials were called at the site of the demonstration and prisoner vans were standing close by, presumably for the arrest of doctors. However, the protestors soon ended their demo and went back to the Civil Hospital.
According to Health Department, the new doctors will be replaced within three days and those would be inducted who had been recommended by public service commission.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2011.