The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) while refusing, on Thursday, to condemn or support the ongoing strike called by the Young Doctors Association (YDA) said it supported the demand for a new service structure.
PMA office bearers, along with representatives from 17 sister organisations, announced at the Lahore Press Club that senior doctors would not treat anybody at the VIP Wards in public hospitals.
Speaking at the press conference Dr Ashraf Nizami, the association’s Punjab president, claimed the Punjab government, through advertisements in newspapers, was misleading people about doctors’ salaries.
Dr Nizami, when asked if the association agreed with the YDA’s strike call, replied, “My association didn’t give the call for the strike. We neither condemn nor support it. However, the PMA –the mother association of doctors – supports the demand for a service structure.” He described the draft submitted to the Health Department as “a demand that all the medical community agrees upon.” The association’s Punjab president remarked that an additional secretary or a special secretary were not the right people to hold the negotiations. Senior politicians should help end the crisis, he said.
He warned the government against taking any action against protesting doctors and vowed to resist government’s efforts to “suppress” them. The association said it would resort to protests across the Punjab if the government did not initiate a “serious dialogue” to meet their demands.
He then slammed the government for the lack of proper facilities in public hospitals, “If we go by the book, not even a single operation can be performed at public hospitals.” Dr Nizami said the doctors had never complained about the conditions they were working in.The PMA’s Lahore president Dr Tanveer Anwar said the young doctors had given the call without consulting them. “They have done it before and have done it again. We condemn those who called the strike and we condemn the indifferent attitude of bureaucracy,” he added.
Dr Tariq Mian, the Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians president, said the government had forced the doctors to take to the streets.
The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab, meanwhile, held a protest at the Jinnah Hospital, shouting slogans against the government and vowing to continue their “struggle” until their demand for a service structure was met. Health Department officials told The Express Tribune that the government was trying to somehow open Outpatient Departments (OPDs) of public hospitals. An official said senior officials had met on Thursday and proposed that senior doctors be asked to work at OPDs so that the patients do not suffer.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2012.