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November 12, 2019

Health workers in KP end 47-day strike

Peshawar

November 12, 2019

PESHAWAR: The protesting health workers, including doctors, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday called off the 47-daylong strike after reaching an understanding with the government.

As per the understanding, a ministerial committee would be constituted to resolve the issues related to the District Health Authority (DHA) and Regional Health Authority (RHA).

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan told The News that he held a meeting with representatives of the health workers, who decided to call off the strike after he directed that a ministerial committee be constituted to resolve the issues.

This was the major demand of the protesting health professionals. He said besides DHA and DHA, the committee would resolve other issues of the health workers. “Most of the issues have already been resolved and efforts would be made to solve the remaining ones. The committee is supposed to resolve the issues within two months or so,” added the chief minister.

The health workers, who had been on strike since September 27, had suspended healthcare services in all the state-run tertiary care hospitals, district headquarters hospitals, tehsil hospitals, Rural Health Centres and Basic Health Units.

The Grand Health Alliance (GHA), an umbrella organisation of all health workers, had given the strike call on September 27 when the police baton-charged the protesting health employees at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

Besides Syed Roeedar Shah, president GHA, Dr Alamgir Yousafzai, chairman GHA and patron-in-chief Young Doctors Association (YDA), Dr Amir Taj, president Provincial Doctors Association (PDA), Dr Sirajul Islam and other GHA office-bearers were present in the meeting with the chief minister. Thousands of surgeries were postponed in hospitals due to strike of the doctors.

Besides denying services to patients in the Outpatient Departments (OPDs), the doctors had stopped working in the operation theatres and pathology and radiology departments. It was the longest strike of the health workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during which doctors, paramedics, nursing staff and non-technical Class-IV employees showed unity and ran a joint campaign against the government under the banner of GHA.

Syed Roeedar Shah, GHA President and KP Paramedics Association Chairman, told The News that they agreed to call off the strike after the chief minister agreed to constitute a ministerial committee to discuss their demands. “We held a fruitful meeting with the chief minister. He accepted our demand to form a ministerial committee to discuss the proposed District Health Authority and Regional Health Authority and other issues that we had been raising,” said the GHA president.

Dr Alamgir Yousafzai, chairman GHA and patron-in-chief of Young Doctors Association (YDA), said the meeting was first convened on Saturday but then postponed due to engagements of the chief minister.

Minister for Law Sultan Mohammad Khan will head the committee with Minister for Communication and Works Akbar Ayub and Minister for Food Qalandar Lodhi as its members. The secretary health will serve as its secretary. On behalf of health workers, Prof Dr Amer Azhar, Dr Sirajul Islam Lodhi, Dr Alamgir Khan, Johar Ali, and Anwar Sultana will discuss their issues.

The health workers went on strike after the government tabled the controversial DHA and RHA bill in the provincial assembly and passed it the same day. Some of the GHA office-bearers said the strike was prolonged due to the negative behaviour of the secretary health as he had threatened them at meetings.

According to the GHA leadership, the government had agreed with them to stop implementation of the DHA and RHA till success of the controversial law in two districts as a pilot project.

“After two or three years, the government will see if it was a successful model then it would be extended to other districts of the province,” said an officer-bearer of the GHA. According to the doctors, neither GHA nor the government bothered to discuss a major demand of the doctors’ community regarding implementation of the Supreme Court verdict concerning irregularities in the MTIs.

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