Thousands of patients faced hardships as the out-patient departments (OPDs) of almost all public hospitals in the city, including the Civil Hospital, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, remained closed on Friday in protest against the killing of a doctor on Thursday.
Various associations of medical professionals had given a call for a strike in protest against Thursday’s killing of Dr Imran Wasi, an ENT specialist associated with the Lyari General Hospital.
The decision to keep the OPDs of public hospitals closed on Friday was taken on Thursday evening. Scores of patients visited the hospitals on Friday morning and were extremely disappointed when they learnt that doctors were on strike.
At the Lyari General Hospital, not only the OPD but also the emergency department shut, and hundreds of patients were advised to visit other hospitals and clinics to seek health care facilities.
Doctors and medical professionals from all public hospitals gathered at Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and demanded of the government to provide protection to them.
Doctors belonging to various associations of medical professionals, including the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), the Association of Hospitals and Clinics, participated in a demonstration while wearing black armbands.
Speaking on the occasion, President PMA (Karachi) Dr Idrees Edhi strongly condemned the killing of Dr Wasi, saying that the state and law enforcement agencies had completely failed to provide protection to peaceful doctors.
“Dr Imran Wasi is the tenth doctor who has been targeted in the fresh wave of violence since May 2010 and we feel as if we are living in a lawless land where nobody is safe, including doctors,” Dr Edhi said and asked the government to perform its responsibilities by providing protection to medical professionals.
President PIMA (Sindh) Dr Sohail Akhtar said that doctors were sacred owing to killings, threats and demands for ransom. He added that if something was not done immediately it would be impossible for them to perform their duties at the hospitals.
He said that on the one hand doctors were being killed repeatedly by criminals and on the other incidents of violence against doctors at public and private hospitals as well as the registration of FIRs against them and arrests were also compelling them to abandon their profession.
The PIMA representative warned that in the prevailing circumstances doctors were in dire need of protection and if they felt that the government was not serious about doing something for their security they would be compelled to quit their jobs and stop providing health care facilities.
Pro Vice Chancellor DUHS Professor Umer Farooq also addressed the protesting doctors. Other representatives of the PMA and PIMA, including Dr Habib-ur-Rehman Soomro, Dr Samina Hashmi, Dr Atif Hafeez and Dr Abdul Malik, were present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Fayyaz Laghari called on the doctors’ leadership at the PMA House and assured them of complete protection, urging them to end their boycott of the OPDs at public hospitals.
The CCPO announced formation of a committee comprising DIG South (Karachi) Iqbal Mehmood and two SSPs, and asked the doctors to contact them in case they received any threat or needed protection.
The doctors’ representatives, however, refused to end their boycott and said that they had no trust in police assurances as in the past too such assurances and commitments were made but violence against doctors did not end.
They decided to meet at PMA House on Saturday to discuss the prevailing law and order situation in the city, threats of extortion and killings of their colleagues, and to adopt the future course of action for their protection.