MULTAN: Operations at public hospitals across the district were suspended on Wednesday after hundreds of paramedics rallied and called for a strike against the proposed privatisation of public hospitals.
The Southern Punjab Grand Health Alliance called for the strike in Multan and other southern districts to prevent the proposed legislation.
The paramedical staff started off their protests at Tehsil Headquarter Hospital, District Headquarter Hospital, Children Complex, Multan Institute of Cardiology, Shahbaz Sahrif Hospital and Civil Hospital, before converging at Kutchery Chowk.
There, they had a sit in for approximately four hours due to which traffic was suspended. They were led by Pakistan Paramedical Staff Association Secretary General A D Kanwal.
“Most of the paramedics or health professionals are serving on a contractual basis or daily wages for the past five to 20 years. Their wages have not been increased for so many years,” lamented Kanwal. “We appeal to Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to look into the matter and order the regularization of their services,” he asserted.
Brandishing banners and placards, the staff vowed to continue with the strike until the government took back the proposition which included legislation to privatise professional allowances, risk allowances and restructuring all the staff from Grade 1 to Grade 16.
They chanted slogans and warned the government that they would boycott the upcoming polio vaccination drive in March if the proposition is not withdrawn. Earlier, the protesting staffers boycotted biometric attendance.
The protesters maintained that the privatisation would cause a steep increase in the cost of health services and would eventually deprive the masses of the facility of free treatment.
Kanwal threatened to take their agitation from the district level to provincial and eventually national if their demands were not met in a timely manner.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2018.