K-P govt firm on reforms despite doctors’ protest

Health minister says door for negotiations open


Shahida Parveen October 26, 2019
PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

PESHAWAR: With a protest and boycott by doctors in public sector hospitals of the province continuing for the 30th consecutive day, the provincial government on Friday took a tough stance, vowing to take action against those responsible.

However, an olive branch was offered to the doctors to resolve their ‘genuine’ demands.

This was stated by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan on Friday as he addressed a joint news conference along with the Special Assistant to the Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza in Peshawar.

The provincial health minister said that there was a group of miscreants who were against the reforms the government wanted to introduce in the health system to protect their vested interests. These people, he said were hurting poor patients.

He added that those responsible for the protests and those who have hurt patients will have to face consequential disciplinary actions.

Dr Hisham, however, said that his doors were open for negotiations with protesting doctors and requested the doctors to end their protests for the greater good of the poor people.

“Our door for negotiations is open all the time for those who have complaints or have issues with the current health system, we will sit and discuss all issues at any time,” the provincial health minister said.

He further clarified that a handful of doctors were creating propaganda that the health sector is being privatized and the civil servant status of doctors was being abolished which is against the facts.

Commenting on a meeting between doctors and Federal Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, Dr Hisham said that the former K-P chief minister was a political elder in the centre and province.

“He has not sat with the protesting doctors and Grand Health Alliance (GHA) officials to roll back reforms, there was no dialogue,” the health minister maintained, adding that the meeting between Khattak and the doctors were merely talking to bring them to the table.

“The reforms have to take place,” Dr Hisham maintained.

Replying to another question, the provincial health minister said that they will not give in to any pressuring tactics of GHA members.

Dr Mirza spoke about the critical nature of polio, noting that Pakistan is only one of the last two nations on earth where polio continues to cripple children.

He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan has constituted a task force to address the critical issue.

The SAPM on health added that international health organizations are helping the provincial and federal governments eradicate the poliovirus from the region. In this regard, he said that they have introduced changes into the national polio eradication programme.

“We are working tirelessly to make Pakistan polio-free country as quickly as possible,” Dr Mirza stated.

The federal government, he said, has authorised the provincial government to continue its efforts to eradicate the virus and from the next month, a country-wide polio eradication programme will be launched.

“We hope that after few years, the country will be polio-free,” Dr Mirza said, as he underlined the need for making concerted efforts to make anti-polio vaccination measures more effective in the border areas of Torkham in the Khyber Tribal District and Angur Adda in South Waziristan Tribal District.

Addressing a question about PM’S Focal Person on Polio Eradication Babar Bin Atta’s sudden resignation, Dr Mirza said that the official himself resigned of his position and that no one had forced him to do so.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2019.

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