Health workers protest assault on JPMC doctor in Karachi

Demand action against attackers, deployment of law enforcers at hospital for security

Sameer Mandhro May 16, 2020
Demand action against attackers, deployment of law enforcers at hospital for security. PHOTO: PPI/FILE

KARACHI: Doctors staged a demonstration at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Saturday after a doctor was assaulted the previous night, demanding stern action against those responsible for the attack.

Dr Raja Shakeel was reportedly attacked by the attendants of a deceased Covid-19 patient admitted to JPMC’s emergency ward while he was treating another patient.

“He was brutally beaten and attacked by at least eight persons,” said Young Doctors Association chairperson Dr Omer Sultan, condemning the act. “He was tortured for no fault of his own.”

A senior doctor at the hospital, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Dr Shakeel was manhandled because hospital authorities did not immediately hand over the patient’s body to the heirs.

He feared that such incidents would continue to take place unless the government changed its policy on dealing with the bodies of Covid-19 victims. On Thursday night, a deceased coronavirus patient’s attendants had vandalised a ward at the hospital for similar reasons.

Following the attack, doctors gathered at JPMC to protest against multiple instances of assaults on healthcare professionals, criticising the authorities for neither taking any action against the offenders nor devising a law to protect health workers against such violence.

“There is no law [to protect] health workers if someone attacks them or misbehaves with them,” deplored Dr Sultan, giving the example of Punjab, where, he said, after a law was passed no one dared to attack any healthcare professional.

Besides, the protesting doctors demanded that the JPMC administration take measures to ensure health workers’ security and the deployment of law enforcement personnel at the hospital to prevent any such incidents in the future.

Later, JPMC executive director Dr Seemin Jamali negotiated with the doctors and assured them that they would be provided security and the attackers would be arrested.

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