Doctors strike: YDA gives govt one week to meet demands

Speakers express support for demands, differ on young doctors’ strategies.


Sher Khan May 05, 2011

LAHORE:


The Young Doctors’ Association-Punjab on Wednesday threatened to resume its strike at the outpatient departments and medical and surgical wards if the government failed to announce a satisfactory salary package by May 11.


The decision was announced in a press release issued after a medical conference organised by the YDA-Punjab at Allama Iqbal Medical College.

Earlier, speaking at the conference, Lahore General Hospital’s Prof Omar Adil warned the YDA-Punjab of sections of media, certain politicians and some senior doctors who, he said, appeared keen to use YDA’s movement to further their own interests. He said some of these individuals were extracting personal benefits from the YDA-Punjab’s strike at teaching hospitals. He also said young doctors should not rely on others and must continue their movement on their own.

YDA-Punjab president Hamid Butt apologised on behalf on his association for “any inconvenience caused by [their] boycott of work at teaching hospitals”. He thanked the speakers and urged the audience to support the YDA-Punjab in seeking better salaries so that they were not “forced to take to the streets” in future.

Prof Javed Akram said he supported the young doctors’ demands. He, however, said another strike would not be a good idea. Akram also said healthcare budget should be increased to at least two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Several media people and politicians were also present at the Wednesday’s conference to express solidarity with young doctors’ movement. Some, however, criticised the YDA-Punjab for extending a strike to emergency wards.

TV host Mubasher Luqman said he had a video of Law Minister Rana Sanaullah promising YDA-Punjab officials that their demands would be met once they ended the strike. Luqman claimed that he had helped organise the talks and asserted that “a deal was struck”. He said Sanaullah had contacted the chief minister after the meeting and taken him into confidence about the deal. He said he would air the video showing Sharif and Sanaullah giving their word that young doctors’ demands would be met after they ended the strike.

Columnist Hassan Nisar said the standard of living of the common man had deteriorated over time. He said the professionals were justified in taking to the streets to press their demands.
Singer Abrarul Haq said the healthcare sector system was in a very bad shape. He expressed disappointment with the manner in which the government had handled the strike. He said that doctors were the most respected Pakistanis abroad.

Another TV host Najam Ali Shah criticised the YDA-Punjab for boycotting work at hospitals. He said he supported their demands in principle but risking patients’ lives was not the right way to go about it.

PPP MPA Dr Amina Butter said there was a need for legislation to stop politicians from going abroad for medical treatment at public expense.

PML-Q MPA Dr Samia Amjad said the failure of assemblies to hold comprehensive debates on issues of public concern was responsible for the state of health sector.

She said most politicians lacked the vision to form good policies.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2011.

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