As strikes carried out by the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab reach a peak, the protesters have decided to converge on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s official residence in Lahore on July 5 if the provincial health department fails to meet their demands for the provision of a service structure.
YDA Punjab representatives made the announcement at a press conference at the Rawalpindi Medical College after holding a general body meeting.
“If the government takes any coercive measure against the protesting doctors, the YDA, while extending its protest, will boycott attending patients at emergency departments and in wards as presently they are only absent from the outpatient departments,” said YDA Punjab spokesperson Dr Nasir Bukhari. Dr Bukhari added that the YDA’s demands were just and that doctors would be forced to shut all hospitals if authorities resorted to any kind of coercive tactics. The press conference headed by All Punjab YDA President Dr Hamid Butt was convened after three hours of deliberations over the organisation’s future course of action.
The doctors said they were not getting any kind of financial or political support from anyone. Responding to a question about the induction of new doctors and arrangements for doctors from the Pakistan Army to fill in, Dr Bukhari said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had “always banked on army action for their politics.”
Meanwhile, the health department directed all doctors to remain present in hospitals today as a contingency plan in the absence of protesting doctors.
Health Executive District Officer (EDO) Rawalpindi Dr Zaffar Iqbal said the Punjab government had directed public hospitals to make arrangements for work to continue smoothly. The EDO said some 92 doctors had been arranged to cover for the absence of protesting doctors.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2012.