KARACHI: A teenage girl died in the Dadu Civil Hospital and five children lost their lives in the Mithi Civil Hospital on Thursday as young doctors stayed away from their duties at Sindh government’s health facilities across the province.
Young doctors boycotted outpatient departments (OPDs) and elective operation theatres (OTs) of all public hospitals on the second consecutive day to press the provincial government to meet their demand of pay raise at a par with their counterparts in Punjab.
Senior doctors also joined in the strike in line with the decision of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) against crippling health services at major hospitals as well as smaller health facilities in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Khairpur, Larkana and other urban and rural areas of the province.
In Hyderabad, doctors gathered outside the OPDs of Liaquat University Hospital (LUH) where they shouted slogans against the government while carrying placards inscribed with their demands.
Leading the demonstration, Sindh Doctors Joint Action Committee leaders Dr Lala Jaffar Khan, Dr Murad Qureshi and Dr Arsalan Mehmood Soomro demanded of the Sindh government to implement its promise and fulfil their demands immediately.
They reiterated that they would neither defer nor call off the protest unless all demands were met and the notification was issued in this respect.
Pakistan Medical Association Sindh chapter general secretary Dr Pir Manzoor told Dawn that health officials approached him to engage in dialogue with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Murtaza Wahab, but he refused.
He said that all issues and demands had already been discussed and the government assured that the notification would be issued.
He said that now there was no need to hold parleys further.
Hundreds of patients could not get medical care because of closure of OPDs and elective OTs.
Scores of patients and their attendants also protested against the government and doctors outside the OPD of the LUH. They expressed their grievances over ineptitude of the government and cold attitude of doctors.
In Larkana, young doctors boycotted indoor and OPDs’ assignments in Chandka Medical College Teaching Hospital complex. They demonstrated and set up a camp at the main gate of the central OPD in the hospital (city block). Raising slogans against the Sindh government, they said the government had deviated from its earlier commitment of accepting their demands.
Three weeks had elapsed, but no notification had been issued despite the promise to issue it within three days, they said.
Scores of patients coming to this tertiary hospital from far-flung areas were facing hardships during the doctors’ boycott.
In Mithi, doctors posted in various hospitals of the desert district continued their boycott of duties to register their protest in favour of their demand for raising their salaries equal to their counterparts in Punjab.
They also staged a demonstration outside the hospital.
It was due to the boycott of the doctors that five minor kids lost their lives in the Civil Hospital of Mithi on Wednesday and Thursday.
Their parents told local journalists that due to the indifferent and callous attitude of doctors, their loved ones had lost their lives. They were brought in critical condition from the remote villages for treatment.
Rights activists working in Thar expressed grief over the attitude of the doctors who, according to them, despite getting allowances almost equal to their salaries, were doing injustice with the drought-stricken Tharis.
A 13-year-old girl, Aliza Soomro, resident of Dadu city, on Thursday fell victim to the doctors’ boycott.
Mohammad Nawaz Soomro, father of Aliza, complained that his daughter was suffering from fever, however doctors at the Civil Hospital of Dadu did not attend to her immediately.
He said that doctors had referred her to Nawabshah for medical treatment, but she died on the way. He said the civil hospital administration had provided an ambulance, but without fuel. He had to get the fuel filled in the vehicle.
A large number of patients returned without getting medical care at various OPDs. On the call of young doctors and Paramedical Staff Association, doctors also observed the strike in the hospitals of Johi, Mehar, KN Shah and Sehwan.
In Khairpur, protesting doctors said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had given a verdict to allow equal benefits to the doctors in Sindh as that of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But the Sindh government was not implementing the court orders.
They threatened to stage a ‘long march’ from Kashmore to Karachi if their demands were not fulfilled within the next 24 hours.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019