Members of the Provincial Doctors Association (PDA) tied black bands around their arms on Tuesday as a show of protest against the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Bill 2015. The organisation aims to raise its voice against privatisation of government health facilities.
“We will not hesitate and express our concerns at all cost,” PDA acting president Dr Amir Taj told The Express Tribune on Tuesday. “If the government has allocated billions of rupees for the health sector annually, why do people not have access to free medical assistance?” he asked.
Dr Taj said the PDA demanded the provincial government provide free medical services to people.
He also expressed reservations over the board of governors for hospitals in the province. “All of them are politically chosen and none of them were selected on merit.” He added the government should put up advertisements for the BoG if it really wanted merit-based selection.
Reservations on autonomy
On July 3, Health Employees Coordination Council voiced its reservations over granting an autonomous status to government hospitals, saying it is a veiled attempt to privatise these institutions.
During the moot at Lady Reading Hospital, participants said most of these hospitals were focusing more on making money rather than serving the public. They were of the view that the relevant authorities were following in the footsteps of previous governments and not facilitating the public.
According to the participants, various health officials had been forced to take to the streets due to the actions of the health authorities.
They raised objections over the decision to place seasoned professionals and staff members of LRH into the surplus pool. Doctors, paramedics, nurses and other health officials who attended the meeting had unanimously decided to tie black bands around their arms during their duties.
Moreover, an awareness seminar will be held on July 23 where out-patient department duties will be conducted in tents rather than the OPD building at LRH. The health officials said the next course of action will be discussed on July 28.
The decision of BoGs for each hospital and privatisation started making the rounds after the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Bill 2015 was passed on January 13 by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
The law proposed the BoGs will be responsible for policy making of every medical teaching institute, prescribing procedures for appointment terms and conditions of service and disciplinary matters.
In addition, they would be responsible for approving the annual business plan, major transactions, financial plans, annual budget and by-laws for medical staff. The boards would also oversee the process for appointment of medical staff and ensure compliance with government policies and standards.
Under the law, each MTI will be accountable to the government for its performance and shall provide performance based data at set intervals. The data will be based on the government-set performance monitoring format for MTIs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.