LAHORE: Hundreds of doctors from public hospitals across the province blocked The Mall on Thursday to press the government to reverse its decision to enforce a central induction policy (CIP).
The protesters were led by the Young Doctors’ Association Punjab.
The doctors gathered in front the Provincial Assembly 11 am with sound systems, selfie sticks, colourful banners and umbrellas to stage a sit-in there.
“This demonstration is the first of a series of protests the YDA has planned against the CIP,” said Dr Zafarullah, the YDA media secretary.
“The government must capitulate to demands of thousands of doctors who are central to the healthcare system. We will continue to protest until the policy is withdrawn,” he said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, he said the YDA had conveyed its concerns to the government. “We fear that the government will privatise the entire healthcare system. The CIP is an initial step towards this end.” “Hundreds of doctors came out to protest the policy today. This shows that all chapters of the YDA are united over this issue,” he said. Responding to a question, the YDA media secretary said doctors would boycott OPDs periodically to sustain pressure on the government to withdraw the policy.
“If the government wants to enforce the CIP, they must raise the seats for postgraduate employees to 4,000 across the province. The 400 seats for postgraduates outlined in the CIP are not acceptable to the doctors.”
Akhlaq Ali Khan, a spokesman of the Health Department, told The Express Tribune that it was unlikely that the policy would be withdrawn. “The policy is already in effect. Candidates have begun submitting their applications online,” he said.
In a statement issued later, the Health Department spokesman said, “The strike called by a faction of young doctors against a transparent and merit-based induction policy for postgraduate failed because most doctors continued providing medical care to the patients.”
He said these doctors believed in a system based on transparency and merit and they are in support of an online PG induction policy free of interference, pressure or nepotism. He said central induction would strengthen the Health Department.
Farhan Gohar, founding member of the YDA, said that the CIP was an attempt to disband doctors’ associations.
“They are trying to break the YDA which is the only force preventing privatisation of public hospitals,” he said.
“The YDA must launch an anti-privatisation campaign and force the government to increase the health budget instead of withdrawing public health services,” he added.
He said the YDA must demand more than just the withdrawal of the CIP. “They must include construction of more teaching hospitals and free health services so that the public can relate to their concerns,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2016.
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