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Young doctors end strike after Sindh govt accepts pay raise demand

Updated February 18, 2019

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The protesters say they will end strike “for the sake of patients”.— File
The protesters say they will end strike “for the sake of patients”.— File

KARACHI: Bodies representing doctors employed with government-run hospitals on Sunday agreed to end their strike after the government assured them that their demands would be met.

The announcement was made after a fresh round of negotiations between Chief Minister’s Information and Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab and representatives of striking doctors, led by the Young Doctors Association, Sindh.

The doctors on the strike demanded a raise in their salaries and allowances at par with the wages being paid to doctors in Punjab. During the strike for the past five days, they paralysed service delivery at the outpatient departments (OPDs) and wards and the strike also affected surgeries at many large hospitals.

According to a statement issued after meeting between Barrister Wahab and representatives of the YDA and Pakistan Medical Association-Sindh, the protesters said they would end strike from Monday “for the sake of patients”.

In turn, the government side promised that the salary package for doctors of Sindh would be made at par with Punjab retrospectively from Feb 1, subject to approval of the Sindh cabinet.

“It has been decided that in future all issues will be solved through negotiations so that the interest of patients is not compromised,” said the statement.

They further said the government had assured them that it would increase salaries of doctors further if the same was made by Punjab in the next fiscal year.

This successful dialogue could come into effect not before a notification by the Sindh health department early in the day in which it warned the striking doctors that it would take legal action against those who were not performing their duties ‘wilfully’, officials said.

They said they were forced to issue the notification against the striking doctors after reports suggested that the continued strike at hospitals across Sindh had created public unrest and at some places people had peacefully and through violent means as well, expressed their anger for not being treated.

The notification, called ‘strict directions’, told all the senior officials that the competent authority “has shown its extreme displeasure and [has] taken a serious notice that doctors and other staffs are not performing their duties and are on strike throughout the province”.

“Due to such unprofessional attitude [on part of striking doctors], the poor patients are being deprived of proper medical coverage or treatment.”

It also asked the heads of all facilities to compile lists of those doctors who were not joining their duties because of the strike for taking legal course against them for denying treatment to public.

The YDA, however, had threatened to expand its protest to emergencies as well if their demands were not met.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019