KARACHI: Around 19 surgeries had to be postponed at Civil hospital because doctors boycotted work on Friday after one of them was attacked.
When Dr Umairul Islam, an associate professor, was unable to stop a patient from succumbing to his injuries, he was given his own set of wounds by livid attendants, who thrashed him as well as an operation theatre technician, Muhammad Akram, with sticks.
The patient had arrived on Wednesday night with gunshot wounds and was rushed to the operation theatre. But he remained in a critical condition and passed away on Friday morning as he was being taken to the operation theatre again.
And then, the onslaught came. The patient’s attendants unleashed their ire on Dr Islam and Muhammad Akram at around 2 am. Dr Islam said that he was locked in a room for almost two hours, during which he tried to ask for security. Unfortunately, he got no response. “I asked the administration to send security, but no action was taken,” he said.
The incident incurred the wrath of doctors, who united on Friday at the Arag auditorium of the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to protest. Members of the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association, Young Doctors Association, Sindh Doctors Welfare Association and Medical Teachers Association turned up. The assaulted doctor also made his way to the protest.
“Doctors are feeling insecure because of frequent killings, kidnapping and manhandling,” said the vice chancellor of DUHS, Prof. Dr Masood Hameed Khan. He demanded a judicial inquiry to be set up to investigate the matter. Prof. Khan added that he has talked to the governor, who has agreed to provide money to hire security guards at Civil hospital. The provincial government, Civil hospital and DUHS will pool money to hire 150 guards.
The Pakistan Medical Association’s (PMA) president, Dr Samrina Hashmi, said that such incidents are the reason that technical staff and doctors are leaving the country.
She and Dr Idrees Adhi, the president of PMA’s Karachi division, added that the organisation had submitted the Health Commission Bill to the government two years ago. However, the authorities keep turning a blind eye to the proposal. Prof Saeed Quraishy, the medical superintendent, said, “We witness this every day, so the government should take prompt action to control the situation.”
The doctors said that the protest will be extended to other hospitals if the culprits are not arrested soon.
On the complaint of Dr Islam, the Eidgah police station has registered an FIR against 15 unidentified people.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.