A series of attacks targeting health workers around Pakistan has put the medical community on edge. Overcoming these challenges seems to be a bigger problem for them than the medical ones, which has disheartened and outraged them.
At a meeting held by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Monday, the doctors said that they are taking part in the anti-polio campaigns as part of their duty but the government has not given them adequate protection.
They condemned the attack on Dr Foston Dido, a foreign doctor working with the World Health Organisation, and the murder of Muhammad Ishaq, a volunteer associated with the anti-polio drive in Gadap Town. The warned that the situation was not acceptable and the PMA would launch a country-wide protest against such atrocities. The meeting was presided over by Dr Tipu Sultan and was attended by Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, Dr Qaisar Sajjad, Dr Idrees Adhi, Dr Qazi Wasiq, Dr Ahmed Bhemani and Dr Hamid Manzoor among other members of the association. The medicine practitioners also talked about the kidnapping of a surgeon, Dr Din Mohammad Baloch, an associate professor at Baqai Medical College, who was abducted near Quetta on July 22.
The PMA expressed grave concern over the deteriorating law and order situation across the country, particularly in Balochistan and Sindh.
They demanded that the provincial governments provide security to the doctors and severely punish all criminals involved in these crimes. The doctors were of the view that the religious factions wanting to impose a brand of Sharia suitable to them were behind the criminals. While Pakistan has the largest number of reported polio cases, doctors working on polio immunisation campaigns have been frequently threatened with dire consequences by religious fanatics.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.