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December 2, 2020

Full-fledged strike at PIMS from today

Islamabad

December 2, 2020

Islamabad : The Grand Health Alliance Tuesday announced to scale up their ongoing two-hour token protest into a full-fledged strike from today (Wednesday), leading to closure of all Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and postponement of all elective surgeries. The treatment of Covid-19 and emergency patients, however, will continue uninterrupted.

Warning the government against the formation of a Board of Governors, the GHA leadership announced that the strike would continue till withdrawal of the ‘draconian’ Medical Teaching Institute (MTI) Ordinance. “All OPDs including that of the Main Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, the MCH Centre, and the Burn Centre will remain closed henceforth till such time that the government accedes to our demands,” GHA’s Chairman Dr. Asfandyar stated while addressing protestors in the hospital lawn. The Administration, Engineering, and Stores departments, among other sections, will also remain closed, he announced.

The GHA regretted the alleged obstinacy of the Ministry of Health in handling the crisis. “We started off with a token strike and gave them a five-day deadline, but they have turned a deaf ear to our demands, leaving us with no option but to expand the scale of the protest,” said Dr Asfandyar. He said PIMS will not accept the formation of a Board of Governors and its employees will remain united in their ranks and subvert any attempt aimed at the hospital’s privatization.

Dr. Asfandyar urged all professors, consultants, and administrative officials of PIMS including the Executive Director, the Joint Executive Director, and all Deputy Directors, among others, to participate in GHA’s Wednesday morning protest which will assume the shape of a rally on the main road leading to PIMS. “Whoever does not show up is a traitor! Forget all your differences and join us in rejecting the MTI for the sake of preserving the sanctity of PIMS, poor patients, and employees,” he said.

The GHA criticized the government for its alleged insensitivity and failure to negotiate with the protestors. “The government considers it an insult to even engage with us. Had they done so, we could have agreed to an alternative. We will not budge an inch. We neither need promotions, nor any additional perks. We have a singular demand—withdrawal of the MTI legislation,” Dr. Asfandyar articulated.

GHA’s spokesperson Dr. Hyder Abbasi said, there was no real intent of suspending medical services, particularly at a time when the second wave of Covid-19 is raging, “but the government’s indifference has forced us to take this drastic measure.”

The Vice Chairman of GHA Riaz Gujjar said, all employees of PIMS are more united today than ever before. “We will go to any extent for the withdrawal of this Ordinance.” The President of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) Dr. Fazal-e-Rabi questioned why, if MTI really is a fantastic intervention, has it failed in KPK. Saeedullah Marwat, Saddaqat Awan, Shahid Khatat, Tanveer Noshahi, Sister Martha, Haji M Hanif, Nazeer Qureshi, Jawad Khan, Tariq Mattu, Nazeer Chishti, and Allah Yar Khan also expressed reservations on the government’s stance.

At the end of the day, it is the poor patients who will end up paying a price for the obstinacy of the protestors and the government. If patient care is truly a concern, there can be no rationale for the suspension of medical services. Both the government as well as the medical fraternity need to rethink their respective strategies so that patient care remains supreme and uncompromised.