LAHORE: Punjab Health Minister Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid claims that the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) is behind the recent strike of young doctors in public sector teaching institutes of Lahore against Medical Teaching Institutions Act.

In a meeting held at the CPSP’s regional headquarter here on Saturday, the health minister burst out at the senior representatives of the college for [allegedly] provoking young doctors for strike in Lahore’s major government hospitals.

In a related development to counter the strike, the health department directed the newly-inducted over 800 postgraduate trainees to resume their duties at the state-run hospitals of the province.

Referring to some ‘intelligence reports’, she said the CPSP [allegedly] hatched a conspiracy against the Punjab government’s initiative of MTI Act, an official privy to the information told Dawn.

He said the health minister had especially called a meeting of CPSP office-bearers and other senior representatives including its president Prof Zafarullah Chaudhry, councillors Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, Prof Aamir Zeman Khan, Prof Mohammad Tayyab, Prof Mahmood Ayaz and Prof Abrar Ashraf.

Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Prof Arif Tajammul was also present besides senior surgeon of King Edward Medical University Prof Hussain Naqi.

Interestingly, the official said, the CPSP office-bearers and councillors who were called in the meeting by the health minister were already holding key offices in the Punjab government’s medical universities and colleges.

These institutions were established to run the Punjab government’s own postgraduate degree programme - MS/MD.

However, the appointment of the CPSP councillors as vice chancellors and principals of the state-run medical institutions has already raised issue of conflict of interest as they had taken oath to promote the rival postgraduate degree programme - FCPS.

Among others who were present in the meeting, Prof Khalid Masood Gondal was holding office of vice chancellor of KEMU, Prof Aamir Zeman as VC Fatima Jinnah Medical University, Prof Mahmood Ayaz Principal Services Institute of Medical Sciences, Lahore, and Prof Tayyab, Principal Postgraduate Medical Institute.

The official said the meeting was called particularly to convey the serious concerns of the Punjab government to the CPSP office-bearers.

During the meeting, the health minister criticised them for ‘secretly’ supporting the young doctors, saying she had been informed by many relevant quarters that the CPSP was supporting the young doctors for strike.

She later engaged some agencies to dig out facts and the reports in this regard confirmed the allegations that the CPSP orchestrated the YDA strike.

Sharing some facts in the meeting, she said, the young doctors observed a complete strike in those teaching institutions of the provincial capital which were being headed by CPSP-backed senior medics.

Like, she said, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and Services Hospital remained at the top among others where the protesting doctors not only closed down OPDs but also forcibly stopped registration of patients.

The official further said the health minister ended the meeting on a serious note that the Punjab government would not tolerate such activities in future.

Later, the health minister held a meeting with the vice chancellors, principals and medical superintendents of the institutions where she categorically directed them to ensure arrangements for healthcare to the patients visiting the health facilities during the strike.

In a related development, the official said a delegation of Association of University Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (AUPSP) met the health minister and assured her of full support to run OPDs.

The AUPSP, which represents more than 2,000 postgraduate trainee doctors at the government hospitals, has extended support to the MTI Act.

“I have 40-year experience in medical profession and I fully understand that I am not going to suffer in any way by the MTI Act if I work regularly and honestly,” says Prof Asad Aslam, the patron-in-chief of AUPSP.

In a statement issued here on Saturday, the AUPSP chief asked the members of his association not to support the strike of young doctors in the best interest of the ailing humanity.

When contacted CPSP President Zafarullah Chaudhry neither attended calls nor responded to the text messages to respond to the claim of the health minister.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2019