Fake medicines case: Doctors threaten strike as authorities ‘crack down’

Death toll, meanwhile, continues to climb as three more patients expire.

Asad Kharal/ali Usman January 30, 2012


Lahore geared up for another battle on Sunday as the witch-hunt proceeded in the fake medicine case.

A doctors’ association threatened to go on a strike against their colleagues’ arrests as authorities detained medical staff in their ‘crackdown.’

The death toll, meanwhile, continued to climb. Unofficial toll reached 112 on Sunday as three more patients lost their lives in Lahore’s Service Hospital, reported Express News.

Crackdown against doctors

A joint investigation team comprising Federal Investigation Agency officials and the federal inspector of drugs detained the medical superintendent of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Dr Saleem Jaffar, The Express Tribune learnt on Sunday. Jaffar was earlier suspended on Friday.

More high-profile arrests are expected in this regard, said a member of the investigation team, while talking to The Express Tribune.

The team also recorded statements of more than 10 heirs of patients who had died due to the reaction of the spurious medicines.

The police, meanwhile, recorded statements of pharmacist Muhammad Yousaf and dispenser Zulfiqar on Sunday, arrested earlier for being involved in the case.

At the FIA Punjab chapter’s office, meanwhile, officials prepared a report on the issue, which will be submitted at the Lahore High Court on Monday.

YDA announces strike

In a bid to protect senior doctors who have been suspended by the Punjab government, the Young Doctors Association (YDA) announced a strike starting Monday.

YDA office bearers decided that in the first stage, they would observe a strike at out-patient departments of PIC and other public hospitals in Lahore.

“We will refrain from duties ourselves and will not let anybody perform duties at PIC as well,” said a doctor working at PIC.

“If the doctors are not restored, YDA could go on a strike throughout the province,” the doctor said.

There are around 250 to 300 doctors working at PIC and around 100 of them showed solidarity with the YDA’s decision.

Health department officials believe that if a significant number of doctors stage a strike, the government would be left with no choice but to accept their demands. In a short span of time and beset by turmoil, replacements will be hard to find.

“In our meeting with the new health secretary, we made our point clear that doctors should not be victimised to save the government’s skin,” President YDA Mayo Hospital Dr Usman Dar said while talking to The Express Tribune.

A meeting between YDA office bearers and officials at chief minister secretariat was underway till the filing of this report.

While government officials insisted that doctors call off the strike, a meeting’s participant said negotiations were unfruitful.

Government’s response

Officers and doctors have been removed from their posts for ensuring a transparent inquiry into the matter, said a spokesperson of the Punjab Health Department.

No person or institution is above accountability and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of negligence in the light of the judicial inquiry, he added.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered setting up of 12 more counters at PIC, for patients’ convenience.  Steps have been taken on ‘war footing’ for overcoming the situation and five special zones have also been set up in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Lahore, Shahbaz added.

Who to blame

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said no one but Shahbaz himself should be suspended since he held the portfolio of provincial health ministry.

“The Punjab government will not take any effective action in this matter, just like it failed to do in the dengue virus case,” Elahi said while talking to the media on Sunday.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2012.


Hamid | 9 years ago | Reply

What do the doctors want? their negligence killed hundreds of people and all they want is that people forget it?

Khurram Mansoor | 9 years ago | Reply

Why are the doctors protesting, are doctors also involved?

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