Ethics debate dominates doctors’ conference

Hamid Butt criticises civil society for not backing junior doctors’ protest.

Sher Khan April 17, 2011


Senior medical professionals discussed the recent strike for better pay by junior doctors in the province, with some backing it and others accusing the doctors of violating medical ethics, at the sixth annual Scientific National Medical Conference hosted by the Muslim Medical Mission on Saturday.

Jamaatud Dawa ameer Hafiz Saeed and University Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Professor Hussain Mubashir Malik were the guests of honour at the event.

Saeed said the JD appreciated the doctors’ importance since it had developed a vast charity network in Pakistan including free clinics for the poor. He said that there had been a religious revival in the East thanks to the resurgence of jihad. He said that doctors should spread Islam as they had unique access to their patients.

Prof Malik said that the healthcare system in Pakistan was dire and could not support the growing population. He said many within the system were becoming discouraged and the pressure on doctors had grown.

In a mid-afternoon panel discussion, the speakers discussed the recent doctors’ strike. Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Punjab President Hamid Butt said that the status of doctors employed by the government had to be improved and the strike was the only way this could have been done.

He said that if the country’s policymakers and leaders had spent more money on education, they would respect medical professionals more. He said just 1.3 percent of GDP was spent on health. He said government doctors should not be bracketed with private doctors, who made far more money.

“We are not fighting for salaries, but to change the system,” said Dr Butt. “When bureaucrats are receiving protocol, one thing is for certain; the poor are not being looked after.”

He criticised civil society for not backing the doctors’ strike, saying they had been silent during the protest. “Why did civil society not fight for a better healthcare system and better services?”

Omar Ali Khan of Isra University said conditions had forced the young doctors into a precarious situation. He said that the doctors had been made to sleep on floors in decrepit hostels. He said that accountability was a critical feature that made healthcare systems abroad successful.

MMM Patron Dr Shehzad Bukhari agreed that junior doctors deserved better pay, but said that medical ethics mandated that doctors work for the public’s wellbeing. He said that senior doctors had disagreed with the methods of the junior doctors.

Attaullah Siddiqui of the Punjab Mineral Development Corporation said that patient care was an important aspect of being a doctor. He said that the conference should provide working papers and research to influence government policies on healthcare.

In the audience, Gujranwala District Headquarters Hospital Medical Superintendent Manzur Butt said administrators and senior doctors had done nothing to improve the healthcare system. He said bureaucratic and political influence had left the hospitals in tatters at the district level.

“At my hospital patients cannot even get an x-ray due to the mismanagement of funds,” he said. “This talk about holistic practice cannot work when we have nothing to begin with.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2011.


babloo | 10 years ago | Reply What the HELL is the leader of a banned outfit doing as "guest of honour" of meetings such as these. For shame!
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