KARACHI: A charged mob vandalised Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and attacked the hospital staff on Friday night, reportedly angered by the death of the patient they had brought in for treatment.
Following the incident, an FIR was registered against unidentified persons and the CCTV footage of the incident was handed over to law enforcement personnel. Besides, the details of the deceased patient were shared with police.
According to a doctor who was present when visitors attacked the hospital staff, the patient whose death led to the assault was brought to the hospital's emergency ward in critical condition and died during treatment.
Another doctor told The Express Tribune that a senior official deployed in the emergency ward had requested the attendants to wait until they complete legal formalities, including testing the patient for Covid-19, at which "they began abusing doctors on duty, quarrelling with them."
According to the doctor, they had iron rods and knives as well.
Reaffirming that the attendants had abused the staff, another doctor said they denied the existence of the coronavirus, terming it "a drama staged by doctors."
"I hope they are put behind bars soon," a senior doctor added.
The attackers damaged the hospital's property, including doors and medical equipment, as could be seen in the CCTV footage of the incident that went viral on social media. The video further show them wheeling out the body of the patient on a stretcher from the emergency ward and taking it away in an ambulance.
Sources at CHK claim that the attackers were residents of Keamari.
Protest and outcry
The incident has been largely condemned by medical bodies, besides doctors at CHK.
"It is difficult for doctors to [continue to] perform duties in such an environment," said Dr Ambreen Abid, who works at the hospital, expressing anger and concern over the increase in the frequency of attacks on doctors by irate visitors. "We are being attacked and are facing misbehaviour more often than not," she deplored, maintaining that the increase in such episodes was because of "the confusing government policies."
She said that even female doctors weren't exempted from the ill-treatment, relating that when male doctors had tried to stop the angry attendants from attacking female staff in the recent incident, they were abused in return.
"The environment is unsafe. How could it be expected of a doctor to perform his or her duties [properly] in such a situation?" she posed a rhetoric question.
Echoing similar views, members of the Young Doctors Association staged a protest on Saturday, condemning the incident.
Carrying placards, the protesters demanded that the hospital management improve security arrangements for doctors and other staff working day and night during a health emergency, also calling for the government to provide better security to these frontline warriors.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) also demanded of the government to provide security to doctors and take prompt action to arrest those involved in the attack.
In a statement issued on Saturday in condemnation of the incident, a PIMA spokesperson underlined that it was difficult for doctors to perform duties with commitment in an unsafe environment.
'Security beefed up'
Later, after visiting CHK, South deputy commissioner (DC) Irshad Ahmed Sodhar told The Express Tribune that security at the tertiary care facility had been beefed up.
"I have met doctors [at the hospital] and assured them of providing complete security to them," he said, acknowledging that these frontline workers needed to be given confidence so that they may fight the battle against the coronavirus to the best of their capabilities.
The DC said that police was already deployed at the hospital, adding, however, that at times it even became difficult for them to handle charged groups. According to him, the police of the area has, nevertheless, been instructed to stay in touch with the hospital management.