LAHORE: A 50-year-old woman died at the Services Hospital on Tuesday when activists of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) denied her treatment at its emergency ward due to a strike for the acceptance of their demands.
The YDA called the strike a few days ago after an official committee comprising three senior teachers rejected their demands to increase salaries and address their other grievances.
Instead of resuming work, an activist of the YDA told reporters near the main gate of the hospital that the patient, Jannatul Firdous, was already dead when she was brought to the emergency ward. The claim was rejected by a female relative standing nearby.
The Punjab chapter of the YDA had planned to gather at the hospital in the morning and march on the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to hold a sit-in there till the acceptance of their demands.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed outside the auditorium of the hospital from where the YDA activists initiated their protest.
As the thoroughfares leading to GOR-I from Jail and Canal Bank roads were heavily barricaded by police, the activists decided to reach the Chief Minister’s Secretariat at 7-Club Road via The Mall. However, barbed wires prevented them from reaching there.
When some activists started removing the barbed wires, police used water cannon to disperse the protesters before taking into custody activists like Dr Tayyab, Dr Hassan, Dr Tajammul, Dr Hamid, Dr Rehman and Dr Mohsin.
The rest of the protesters opted to go back to the Services Hospital where YDA’s Punjab chapter president Dr Haider held a press conference.
“We will hold a sit-in here till the release of our arrested colleagues. There will be no work in the outpatient and inpatient departments of all public sector hospitals in the province from tomorrow,” he said.
Work in the emergency ward [of the hospital] would not resume till secretary of the special healthcare and medical education department, Najam Shah, was replaced with a health professional, he added.
The YDA president parried media questions when asked how could it be termed a province-wide strike on Wednesday when except for the Services Hospital and partially Jinnah Hospital, medical staff was present on duty as per usual at the Mayo, Lahore General, Children’s and Ganga Ram hospitals.
Responding to a question, Dr Haider said that no official of the health department had approached the association for a dialogue.
“We didn’t boycott,” he said while demanding that the central induction policy of doctors should be done away with immediately.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2017