Doctors stage rally against district health authority system

Updated April 18, 2019

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Doctors stage a protest outside KP Assembly building in Peshawar on Wednesday against government plan to set up district and regional health authorities. — White Star
Doctors stage a protest outside KP Assembly building in Peshawar on Wednesday against government plan to set up district and regional health authorities. — White Star

PESHAWAR/TIMERGARA: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors Council, a joint forum of doctors, on Wednesday staged a protest demonstration outside the provincial assembly building against the government’s district health authority system, mass transfer policy and political interference in hospitals’ affairs.

The demonstration led to closure of the main Sher Shah Suri and Khyber roads causing massive traffic jam from all sides. The protesters were holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the government and the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) law.

Talking to mediapersons, the representatives of KP Doctors Council said that the ‘black law’ of MTI had been imposed on the public sector hospitals which had deprived the poor people of health facilities in the province. They said that condition of the hospitals had been deteriorating with each passing day.

The demonstrators said that the government had increased the fee of OPD slip, laboratory test and X-rays, which had made it difficult for the poor patients to get cheap health facility. They feared that poor people would be directly affected by privatisation of public sector hospitals. They added that presently medicines were not available in major health facilities.

The protesting doctors said that after imposition of the MTI law the government had announced to introduce the district health authority system to privatise the public sector health facilities on district level while affairs of the hospitals would be run by private boards comprising political representatives, private doctors and nurses instead of the provincial health department.

The demonstrators said that under the new system the hospitals would be responsible for generating required funds on their own level. They claimed that hospitals would be brought under the supervision of political board of directors, which would lead to recruitments on political grounds instead of merit in these health facilities.

The doctors demanded of the government to immediately withdraw its decision regarding abolition of civil servants’ positions in the MTI hospitals. They asked the government to take effective measures for elimination of quackery in the light of Supreme Court orders.

Later, provincial health minister Hisham Inamullah held talks with the protesting doctors, which failed to produce results and the doctors continued their protest.

The minister said that the government would make amendments in the MTI Act instead of abolishing it. He said that they would take all possible steps to address the grievances of doctors, adding that being civil servants the doctors should accept the transfer and posting orders as all the steps were being taken in the interest of masses.

In Timergara, Young Doctors’ Association, Lower Dir chapter, on Wednesday warned to strongly resist the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s plan to privatise public sector hospitals in the garb of district and regional health authorities.

The decision was made at a meeting at Timergara with the association’s district president Dr Rafiullah in the chair.

On the occasion, Dr Rafiullah and others said the government planned to privatise government hospitals in peripheries in the garb of district health authority (DHA) and regional health authority (RHA).

They said the doctors throughout the province had rejected the proposed act on formation of DHA and RHA. They said if passed from the assembly the act would turn the district headquarters hospitals into autonomous bodies run by a specific authority.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019