The federal organisation of the Young Doctors Association lashed out at the provincial chapter on Tuesday, saying the YDA Punjab’s recent strike had cost lives while actually setting back the quest to get higher salaries for public sector doctors.
“The YDA Punjab has manipulated public sentiment and brought doctors into disrepute,” YDA Pakistan president Rana Sohail told a press conference at the Lahore Press Club. He said they had been fighting for a pay raise for nearly two years before the YDA Punjab decided to go on strike and “put patient care at risk”.
Sohail said that the YDA Pakistan was trying to get a special pay package for all public sector doctors in the country included in the next budget. He said the YDA Pakistan would never go on strike in intensive care and emergency wards.
He also accused the YDA Punjab of becoming a political body rather than one working in doctors’ interest. “It’s unfortunate to see political interests from the private sector and public hospitals backing them,” he said.
YDA Pakistan executive council member Dr Talha Sherwani said that YDA Punjab doctors were at the centre of a “growing nexus” of private medical colleges, public medical college principals and politicians who had a stake in the healthcare system.
He said that the YDA Punjab’s healthcare convention at Allama Iqbal Medical College on Wednesday had been endorsed by several medical superintendents and principals of public sector medical colleges.
“One has to question YDA Punjab’s strategy,” said Sherwani. “Why would anyone hold a medical conference after a movement? They are being used.”
The YDA Pakistan officials also handed out a list of questions that they said they wanted the YDA Punjab to answer. The list included questions asking what the YDA Punjab had achieved in its strike, why it had allegedly threatened those who did not take part in the strike, and whether it would admit that the strike had been a failure since doctors’ pays had not been raised yet.
YDA Punjab official Dr Aftab Ashraf dismissed the YDA Pakistan’s criticism. He said the YDA Punjab would engage media and civil society on Wednesday to try and arrive at a public consensus on what changes must be made to the public healthcare system and the doctors’ service structure.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.