The ongoing Young Doctors Association (YDA) strike in Punjab took a turn for the worse on Saturday when an Express News team reporting on the condition of the patients at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital’s emergency department in Rahim Yar Khan was assaulted by the doctors. Several cameramen and journalists were wounded.
On the 13th day of the ongoing strike, YDA officials held a press conference at the hospital on Saturday. Once the conference was over, the reporting team tried to go to the emergency and the outpatient departments to cover the plight of patients affected by the strike. Some doctors, however, stopped the media men, demanding they do not report on anything other than the press conference.
When the media team refused to comply, some doctors in the emergency department snatched a cameraman’s equipment, beat him and dragged him into the emergency room where they held him captive. Reporters present with the cameraman were also beaten by doctors. Police personnel deployed outside the emergency department rushed to intervene, and escorted the journalists to safety.
Following the incident, journalist and activists staged a demonstration outside District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chatta’s office. They demanded an FIR be filed against the doctors immediately. Later, journalists lead the protesters from the police station to the district coordination officer’s (DCO) office. The DPO and DCO assured them that swift action would be taken.
‘Genuine demands, aggressive methods’
General Sectary Pakistan Medical Association’s (PMA) Bahawalpur Chapter Dr Naeemudin said that the demands of the YDA were “genuine, but the methods adopted to convey them were aggressive.”
He added that the doctors had the full support of the PMA regarding the demands of a better service structure because it was the basic right of the doctors. When asked why the PMA did not publicly support the YDA or take part in the strike, Dr Naeemudin answered, “the decision of striking is wrong and should be the last resort. The PMA believes that all parties should reach a consensus by having talks.”
Director Cholistan Development Council Farooq Ahmed Khan demanded the government ban private practice of doctors, because while they remained on strike at public hospitals during the day, they held private clinics in the evenings.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.
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