Wednesday December 01, 2021

500 lives on the line as govt takes its time to resolve crisis at PIMS

January 11, 2021

Islamabad: The Federal Grand Health Alliance (FGHA) will withdraw indoor clinical services at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) with effect from today (Monday). Over 500 patients currently admitted at the hospital will now face the brunt of the government’s leisurely pace to devise a formula that will make the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Ordinance acceptable to the medical fraternity.

It has been six weeks now since employees of PIMS have been protesting against the implementation of MTI, and despite assurances that the government will work to scrap some of the conditions that make the legislation controversial, no major breakthrough has been achieved thus far.

“Yet another deadline that we had served on the government amidst hopes for this crisis to end, has lapsed.

The government’s apathy and insensitivity has left us with no choice but to withdraw indoor services from 8 a.m. on Monday,” GHA’s Chairman Dr. Asfandyar Khan stated. The next step, he said, will be a sit-in outside the PM’s House in Bani Gala.

Dr. Asfandyar, who received a warm welcome from GHA leaders in Lahore on Saturday boasted having garnered nationwide support for the struggle for the withdrawal of MTI. “We have been trying our best to avoid a clash, but the government’s adamant posture and inability to provide a solution in black and white has forced us to withdraw indoor clinical services,” he said.

Spokesman of GHA Dr. Hyder Abbasi criticized the PM’s Special Advisor on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan for sparing time to award frontline healthcare workers at an event held at the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, but not caring to visit PIMS where health workers who are actively serving Covid-19 patients are on protest for the last six weeks. “We have no vested interests. We want to work and improve the system but not at the cost of our civil servant rights and the ability of poor patients to access free medical care,” he stated.

The FGHA leadership said, despite having been contacted by different political parties interested in supporting the protestors, a conscious effort has been made to keep the movement apolitical. “The government should not force us to open our doors to political parties and other organizations. However, at the same time, it must know that our protest will not end until the government agrees to our demands. Moreover, the government will be responsible for any tough decisions that we are forced to take during this time,” Dr. Hyder added.

The Vice Chairman of FGHA Chaudhry Riaz Gujjar claimed having been contacted by 66 government employees’ organizations. “We support the demands of All Government Employees Grand Alliance (AGEGA) and endorse their announcement about holding a protest in front of the Parliament on January 12. All PIMS employees will join the AGEGA protest, the schedule of which will be finalized on Monday. The government is forcing us to join hands with PDM. If it does not come to the negotiation table before Wednesday, we will assemble at Bani Gala for a sit-in which will continue till the approval of our demands,” Gujjar added.

Meanwhile, a large number of doctors and consultants including Prof. Naeem Malik, Prof. S. H. Waqar, Prof. Shajee Sidiquee, Prof. Atif Shami, Dr. Tariq Abdullah, Dr. Burhan, Dr. Sana, Dr. Faisal Farhan, Dr. Faisal Khan, Dr. Raheem Memon, Dr. Isbah Rashid, Dr. Awais Kareem, as well as representatives of nurses, and many others participated in the protest with their teams, and vowed to continue the protest against MTI—be it for six months or more—till the government withdraws the controversial legislation.