Karachi (May 10, 2011): For a second day in a row, thousands of patients bore the brunt of the paralysed Out Patient departments (OPDs) of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) on Tuesday, as medical staff continued their boycott against the transfer of federal hospitals to the province.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of medical professionals working for these federal hospitals refused to provide health care at their respective OPDs from 9 am to 11 am, and gathered at JPMC in protest.
During these hours, protestors from all three medical facilities rallied from their base camp at JPMC to the institution’s main mosque.
Official estimates state that a total of up to 25, 000 patients frequent the OPDs of the aforementioned institutions, which are routinely only functional for a few hours, in a given day. Therefore, despite the fact that OPDs remained open for an extra two hours to compensate for the boycott, the peak hours for these services were between 9am and 11am; which had a significant impact on the welfare of patients who usually visit during this period.
In defense of their actions, JAC office bearers said that they were forced to resort to boycotting their services, as efforts for peaceful protesting had fallen on deaf ears. The JAC had organized demonstrations, including the adornment of black arm bands, for over a week to appeal to concerned authorities to stop the devolution of federally-run hospitals; but they had yet to receive a positive response.
According to sources, JPMC’s administration displayed some resentment towards the disruption OPD services when JAC members called on them yesterday, but strangely enough they had not taken any significant action so far.
JAC office bearers further defended their stance and argued that even after 10 days of protesting, there has been no government response to their demands, assuring doctors that devolution of federal hospitals will not take place.
JAC announced that medical professionals would continue the boycott on Wednesday, and warned that if no assurance is received on behalf of the government; they would increase the scale of the protest.