Police baton-charge nurses as their protest enters seventh day

Negotiations between health officials and nurses failed after which protesters tried to move towards Governor House

Our Correspondent July 11, 2019
Negotiations between health officials and nurses failed after which protesters tried to move towards Governor House. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: Nurses from all government hospitals of Sindh, including Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, Lyari General Hospital and Sindh Government Hospital, staged a sit-in at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday, as the protest by the Sindh Nurses Alliance entered its seventh day.

It has been a week since the nurses have been staging demonstrations, demanding that government take steps to meet a set of demands they have put forward. As a part of the protest, they have continued the boycott of emergency and Intensive Care Unit wards, demanding the promotion and up-gradation of nursing staff under the four-tier formula, provision of health allowance, increment in the stipend of nursing students to Rs25,000, appointment of 14,000 new nurses and giving nursing school principals powers equivalent to that of DDO.

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As the protest gained momentum, Health Additional Secretary Waheed Sheikh and health deputy secretary, along with a five-member delegation, reached KPC to meet the leadership of Sindh Nurses Alliance. Negotiations between both the parties lasted for about half an hour, though they failed to reach a consensus. Following this development, The Sindh Nurses Alliance leadership asked the participants of the protest to begin marching towards to Governor House. Following the directives, protesters marched, holding banners and shouting slogans against the Sindh government, demanding that their demands be met.

Police tried to stop the protesters from advancing towards the Governor House, citing security concerns, however, the nurses kept on moving forward, which aggravated the situation. In a bid to stop them from advancing further, police baton-charged the nurses, some of whom fainted while a few sustained minor injuries. Police also arrested six nurses, who were later released. The injured and the fainted were rushed to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.

Sindh Nurses Alliance representative Aijaz Kalairi has said that this has been the third demonstration in a series of protests staged by nurses to urge to government to meet their demands. Last time nurses had staged a protest, two months ago, Sindh Government had asked for period of 10 days to resolve our issues but no step has been taken to meet the nurses' demands, he added.

"Government has again asked for 10 to 15 days to meet our demands but we will only settle for something substantial, nothing less than a notification," said Kalairi. He also held the provincial government responsible for the inconvenience faced by the patients due the boycott of duties by nurses.

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However, Health Secretary Saeed Awan said that the nurses' protest was baseless, adding that the finance department has raised objections to the summary of nurses' demands. Awan elaborated that a new summary will be prepared and sent to the finance department within two days.

He opined that nurses need to act responsibly and consider their duties towards serving the poor before getting involved in such tactics.

In most government hospitals, doctors had to serve out of their duty hours, due to the absence of nurses.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2019.


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