Several people have died due to the two-week doctors’ strike in Pakistan. These deaths are unwarranted and the doctors’ action goes against the oath doctors take when they enter this honourable profession: to practise medicine “ethically” and “honestly.” Doctors are trained to saves lives, so these deaths are a blot mark on their profession.
The government has taken “measures” to tackle the problem of protesting doctors by arresting more than fifty doctors in Punjab according to news reports. Those who have lost loved ones will think this much too lenient.
But this situation would never have arisen had these doctors’ demands been accepted before things took a bad turn, as they do in such situations. Unfortunately, highly educated people like teachers and skilled professionals like doctors have to take to the streets to demand an adequate salary so they can support their families.
And we often see them engaged with the authority, which uses everything in its power to crush them; no effective steps are taken to meet their just demands and, more often than not, things get out of hand and lives are lost, as in the doctors’ strike.
A doctor may take the Hippocratic Oath to serve humanity, but unless his/her own family is comfortable and they have enough incentives to slog the long hours of their duties, they cannot perform to their best ability. It is not humanly possible, except for rare cases like that of Mother Teresa and Abdul Sattar Edhi, to selflessly serve humanity without expecting something in return.
The government also takes an oath when it comes to power, with its members vowing to honestly serve the interests of their country. However, in Pakistan not one oath has been honoured in the last six decades.
Government after government falls short of serving the country and working for its development; the country has been whittled down from within but “government servants” have not been affected-over the years their salaries, perks and privileges have only increased.
Shouldn’t those hailing from professions that directly make a difference in people’s be also satisfied so that people are not affected? This way government leaders would be serving the people-and thus living up their oath.
In countries like Pakistan critical sectors that need most attention, like health and education are neglected, which usually leads in brain drain and/or extreme frustration that leads to increase in crime, among other things.
If someone is unlucky enough to get stuck in the government sector – teachers and doctors being a case in point – they are worse off them their counterparts in the private sector. They are not only low paid but are also deprived of their basic rights such as promotions, as compared to other government servants, army personnel and CSS officials.
The lucky ones who can flee the country are taken in by the developing world where their efforts are awarded with high salaries and privileges, which leads to better output there. Their own country is deprived of their skills forever.
Time and again we have seen the government mess up when it tackles problems like the doctors’ strike, and only made matters worse. And once again the government has erred in calling in army doctors to “solve” the problem.
This is a wrong step and it seems as if the matter is being swept under the rug instead of being resolved. The government may still be able to solve this problem which has needlessly arisen and take quick measures to fulfil the doctors’ legitimate demands – revise their salary structure and streamline the system of promotion so that these doctors can return to work immediately and no more patients die because they were not attended to.
In this way the doctors and politicians can both honour the oaths they took before entering their respective professions.
The writer is an assistant editor at The News.