Young Doctors’ Association also planning long march, sit-in at CM Secretariat.
LAHORE: Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Punjab has issued an ultimatum to the government: if by Saturday no concrete proposals are ratified by a committee formed to consider doctors’ pay demands, the strike at indoor and outpatient departments in public hospitals throughout the province will resume on Monday.
“We have conveyed to the chief minister that we are dissatisfied with the working of the committee and delays in the overall process which had been promised by the government,” said YDA Punjab chairman Dr Muhammad Haroon. “As result we will be going back on strike starting Monday.”
He said that the YDA general council had also authorised a plan for a long march to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, where the protesters would stage a sit-in.
The doctors in government service want a pay raise, a separate service structure, pay protection, comprehensive healthcare coverage and job security. The government says they will have to wait till the next budget is announced.
Dr Haroon said the strike would not include emergency wards at hospitals. Instead of that tactic, which resulted in media coverage of the strike unfavourable to the doctors, the association will engage in the long march, he said. Other doctors’ associations such as the Pakistan Medical Association and Medical Teachers Association, pharmacists’ associations and civil society groups would be invited to join the march, which would culminate in an indefinite sit-in, he said. Doctors from all over the province would join in, he said.
He said another protest would be registered at the rural level by withholding of the World Health Organisation report due in May. The monthly report includes demographic information for WHO programmes at the district level.
YDA Punjab Jinnah Hospital chief Abu Bakr Gondal, who is one of the YDA representatives on the committee, said he was disappointed by the government’s “inflexibility and unwillingness” to set a timeline for doctors’ raises.
MTA and PMA
MTA general secretary Amjad Ali said that he was of the view that the government had to take action to fix the problem. He said that the government had changed the health secretary, but needed a full time minister too.
“Healthcare issues are not being handled. The chief minister with good intention personally took the Health Department portfolio, but he has simply been too busy to focus on the issues,” said Ali.
PMA president Dr Muhammad Tanveer Anwar said that the PMA was in favour of the proposals for a separate service structure and higher wages announced by the prime minister at the federal level. He said that the PMA’s role in the committee meeting was a small one and it had not been involved in the first two meetings. “The general atmosphere was tense. Both the YDA Punjab and the government did not veer from fixed positions,” he said.
(Published in “Express Tribune” on Thursday, April 28th, 2011)