Young doctors: Boycott of OPDs in Balochistan hospitals

Demand offending policemen be sacked; remote patients suffering most

Mohammad Zafar April 08, 2016
Demand offending policemen be sacked; remote patients suffering most. PHOTO: PPI

QUETTA: In response to violent clashes that broke out between protesting doctors and police forces in Balochistan on Thursday, the Young Doctors Association (YDA) called for a total boycott of the Outdoor Patients’ Department (OPD) across Balochistan on Friday, in protest against the excessive use of violent force, shelling and firing by police officers.

The YDA also announced on Friday that they would boycott the on-going IPV polio campaign in response to government silence regarding the alleged police brutality which led to several injuries among protesting doctors on Thursday.

Addressing an impromptu news conference at Civil Hospital Quetta, President of YDA Dr Hafeez Mandokhail announced the decision to boycott the polio campaign that will last till April 12. The association also gave a 24- hour ultimatum to the provincial government to sack DC Quetta and other offending police officers.

A heavy presence of policemen was visible at most hospitals in the province in response to the boycott. “From early morning the government has deployed heavy contingent of police force in Civil and BMC Hospitals which shows their seriousness towards dialogue,” President YDA Dr Hafeez said, adding that doctors are afraid to attend their hospital shifts.

Citing demands to sack the policemen involved in the excessive use of force, the YDA president said: “unless our demands are met, our strike will continue. We have decided to suspend all emergency services for the coming days, which would mean a full escalation of protests and total paralysis for the healthcare system in Balochistan.”

The boycott has especially caused difficulties for patients seeking treatment from remote parts of Balochistan. “We have come from Naushki but not a single room is open in Civil Hospital’s OPD,” says Abdullah Baloch who brought his father for treatment and is demanding that “doctors end their strike for the sake of poor patients because we can’t afford treatment at private hospitals.”  He also urged the provincial government to accept the YDA’s demands and punish those who committed excesses.

The YDA protest turned violent on Thursday as protesters attempted to barge into the heightened security area of the Red Zone to submit their demands. During the clashes 7 doctors were injured including Dr Asadullah who sustained serious wounds and had to be airlifted to Karachi for urgent treatment.

Taking notice of the chaos Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri has constituted a committee headed by Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti.

Showing no-confidence in the constituted committee YDA on Friday protested in front of Quetta Press Club listing their demands for the immediate sacking of the offending police officers.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2016.