Health practitioners resign in protest over MTI Act

Doctors seek better alternatives due to government’s backtracking and limited legislations


Umer Farooq September 14, 2021
A REUTERS FILE IMAGE

PESHAWAR:

While government policies aim to work towards the greater good, it is a herculean task to make all factions of the population content with new legislation.

This time the discontented lot is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) doctors and the troublesome policy is the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Act. The grievances with the legislation are such that senior health practitioners have started resigning from leading hospitals in the provincial capital in protest. Sources indicate that mass resignations were inevitable but were not expected to take place as soon as they have.

The Express Tribune learned that from the protesting doctors’ perspective the MTI is draconian as it limits them to choosing between working under the act or as a civil servant. If they choose the former, then they have to retire at the same government hospital they choose to work at and also bring their private practice under the premises of that hospital.

Agitation against the policy is being led by the Young Doctors Association (YDA), which has been resisting the MTI since it was first introduced in 2015. “Had senior doctors, who are now resigning, been part of our protests and agitated against MTI Act, it would never have seen the light of day,” member YDA’s Supreme Council and former YDA president Dr Rizwan Kundi told The Express Tribune.

Kundi said that the seniors did not pay heed to their protests because initially they were promised incentives for bringing their private practice to public hospitals. “They would tell us if the government offered allowances in exchange for practicing at the hospital, there was no need to agitate and refuse working under MTI Act,” said Kundi.

A few of the health practitioners that have resigned in recent days, told The Express Tribune, that while there were many issues with the Act, the major hurdle was that those who accepted working under it could only run their private clinic at the premises of government hospitals and were never allowed private practice at clinics outside the hospital. They further said that the allowances promised by the government to forego private clinics turned out to be empty.

“We were told not to set up our own clinics and were offered allowances but now since OPDs are closed due to Covid, we cannot practice at the hospitals neither do we receive allowances,” a senior doctor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) said. He said that if they openly speak against the MTI they could face consequences, perhaps that is why 53 of his counterparts at the LRH had decided to resign instead.

“The resignations are not only at LRH but some 70 of my colleagues, including some from the Khyber Teaching Hospital, have also resigned recently,” the doctor confirmed. He added these resignations would spell trouble for the government as all these senior doctors were specialists in the fields of cardiology, endocrinology, and nephrology to name a few and replacing them was no easy task.

“We [YDA] always knew that the U-turn government would not live up to its word and we were proven right,” Kundi told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2021.

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