Deadlock persists as CM refusesto meet doctors on strike

February 15,2019

The Sindh government on Thursday failed to convince young doctors on the second day of their strike to resume their duties at out-patient departments and wards of the public hospitals in the...

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The Sindh government on Thursday failed to convince young doctors on the second day of their strike to resume their duties at out-patient departments (OPDs) and wards of the public hospitals in the province.

The strike has been called by the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Sindh. The doctors on strike are demanding an increase in their salaries and allowances, so that they are on a par with those of the doctors working in Punjab.

The doctors’ strike brought misery for patients who were not attended at the public hospitals and had to either return back to their homes or seek doctors at private health facilities.

Sindh Health Secretary Saeed Awan and Information Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab tried to pacify the protesting doctors and asked the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Centre to mediate between the provincial government and the YDA but the PMA office bearers refused to help the government, saying the young doctors were no more ready to listen to the Sindh government’s ‘hollow assurances’.

PMA officials said they requested the health department to arrange a meeting between young doctors and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah so that he could convince the protesting doctors to call off their boycott as the government would soon issue a notification regarding an increase in their salaries but the CM refused to meet the doctors, saying there was no need of any meeting as the government had already accepted the demands of the protesting doctors.

“I was contacted by Sindh Health Secretary Saeed Awan and Information Adviser Murtaza Wahab and they requested me to mediate between the government and the protesters,” said PMA Secretary General Dr Qaiser Sajjad, adding that he, however, asked them to give some concrete assurance that could make the doctors believe that the government was serious in fulfilling their demands, which the secretary and the adviser failed to give.

Dr Sajjad claimed that he also suggested to the government representatives that they hold a meeting between the young doctors and the CM; however, the CM was willing to meet the protesting doctors.

The PMA secretary general said young doctors were also not willing to accept his mediation anymore without the issuance of any notification by the government regarding an increase in their salaries.

In these circumstances, there is a deadlock despite all our efforts as both the quarters are not willing to accept each other’s point of view, Dr Sajjad said, adding that the rigid stance of both the parties was making only patients suffer from Karachi to Kashmore.

Meanwhile, the young doctors alleged that the government was not serious in resolving the issue. They claimed that they had shown flexibility on a number of occasions but the government did not honour its commitment, forcing them to boycott OPDs and other health services.

“Doctors in Punjab and KP are getting double salaries compared to doctors in Sindh. Why is there so much disparity? When we speak to the Sindh government, they assure us that our demands are justified and would be accepted but when it comes to implementation, no action is taken,” YDA Sindh Chairman Dr Umer Sultan said, while talking to media persons at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

Conceding that patients were suffering due to the YDA’s strike, he said people were facing problems due to the adamant attitude of the Sindh government, which was using delaying tactics.

“We would provide consultation to patients in the emergency departments tomorrow but would continue our boycott till our justified demands are met,” he said. A baby girl also reportedly died at a hospital in Sukkur after she did not receive treatment due to the doctors’ boycott of OPDs and wards.

PTI lawmakers

Two PTI lawmakers from Sindh, MNA Aftab Siddiqui and MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman, met young doctors at the JPMC on Thursday noon and asked them to call off their strike at least at the JPMC and National Institute of Child Health, saying these institutions had now been handed over to the federal government through a Supreme Court order and it would take time for the federal government to increase the salaries and allowances of doctors.

Both the PTI lawmakers supported the young doctors’ demands and criticised the provincial government, especially Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, saying despite getting hundreds of billions of rupees from the divisible pool under the 18th amendment, people of Sindh were being deprived of quality health services.

The PTI legislators, however, were unable to answer whether the federal government would continue providing over a dozen billion rupees to run the three hospitals in Karachi, JPMC, NICH and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, which have been transferred to the centre.


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