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October 16, 2019

No respite for patients: Doctors’ strike in KP enters 19th day

National

October 16, 2019

PESHAWAR: The patients in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued to suffer as the strike of the protesting health workers, including doctors, paramedics, nursing staff and class-IV employees entered into 19th day on Tuesday.

All the health workers have been on strike since September 27, paralysing health services in all the government-run hospitals of the province. They have been protesting against the Regional Health Authority (RHA) and District Health Authority (DHA) which the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passed recently.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leadership claimed that through RHA and DHA they wanted to introduce reforms at the health facilities in the periphery. The doctors and other support staff suspected that the government had planned privatisation of the hospitals in the regional and district level.

The PTI government had promised the doctors and other health workers that before tabling the RHA and DHA bill in the assembly that it would take all the stakeholders into confidence. The doctors complained that the government kept them in the dark and secretly tabled the bill and passed it from the assembly.

On September 27, they gathered in the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), to lodge their protest against RHA and DHA and the Peshawar administration and police used force by beating the health workers in a bid to disperse them.

Some of the doctors and paramedics were injured while 35 others were taken into custody and sent to the Mardan jail. It prompted the health workers and announced a province-wide strike. And since then, all health workers have been on strike and suspended services in outpatient departments, operation theatres as well as pathology and radiology departments. The government, particularly Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, have failed to make any serious effort to find an amicable solution to the issue.

"I don't know why the chief minister is silent on this issue? He should have taken note of the suffering of the patients and convened a meeting of doctors' representatives to resolve this problem," a senior consultant in Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) opined.

He said the chief minister should take the doctors into confidence by ordering an inquiry into the incident that happened at the LRH. "The government should accept the major demand of doctors and approve the selection of the doctors through the Public Service Commission and ensure job security to doctors and other employees serving in the health sector and I am sure the doctors would end the strike," he said.

The doctors complained that they supported health reforms but in certain places, people holding key positions started misusing powers and violated merit to favour their near and dear ones.

"The Nowshera Medical College is the classic example where a single person has been running the board of governors for the last one year. The dean and hospital director have been appointed in violation of merit. The dean has recruited around 15 family members, including his daughter," alleged a consultant.

Interestingly, the dean Dr Jehangir Khan is the brother-in-law of Governor Shah Farman while Dr Arif Khan was appointed Hospital Director without any interview or shortlisting. He is the first cousin of Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

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