PESHAWAR: Patients continued to suffer at the government hospitals across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the doctors’ strike against the thrashing of Khyber Teaching Hospital Assistant Professor Ziauddin by health minister Hisham Inamullah Khan entered fourth day on Saturday.
The misery of patients is unlikely to ease early as the government has categorically rejected the doctors’ demand of registering an FIR against the minister.
The people turned to private clinics for costly consultation and treatment unlike public sector hospitals, which offered the same on Rs10 outpatient department chit.
Govt rejects call for FIR against minister over surgeon’s torture
The government has repeatedly warned doctors against boycotting duty, but to no avail.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors’ Council had given the call for strike against Tuesday’s incident.
On May 2, the KTH doctors had ended their weeklong strike after the government promised resolution of their grievances over the formation of regional and district health authorities, transfer to home districts, and alleged violation of merit in promotions and appointments at medical teaching institutions.
They, however, boycotted duty after the health minister beat up Dr Ziauddin Afridi with the help of guards and policemen after the latter threw eggs at National Health Task Force head Prof Nausherwan Burki for being denied promotion.
The patients criticised doctors and government for the standoff and blamed their misery on both.
Also in the day, doctors from seven districts of Malakand division took to the streets in Mingora against the health minister and demanded the government act against him for subjecting a senior surgeon to violence on duty.
Holding banners and shouting slogans, they marched from the central hospital to Saidu Sharif hospital.
Leaders of political parties were joined them.
Pakistan Doctors Association president Dr Wase said the government should immediately remove the health minister to prevent legal action.
“We won’t return to work until the government accepts our demands,” said Dr Amjad, a representative of the Young Doctors’ Association.
He said if the government acted against any doctor, then emergency services would be halted in hospitals.
Dr Amjad warned that they would extend the protest to other provinces if the health minister along with his guards wasn’t booked for violence.
He also demanded the immediate sacking of the minister, establishment of a parliamentary committee to address the doctors’ grievances, action against police officials over torture.
Dr Amjad also opposed the formation of regional and district health authorities, and privatization of hospitals.
The doctors also boycotted duty in the Saidu Teaching Hospital, tehsil hospitals, private hospitals and clinics in Swat.
The doctors’ strike against the health minister continued in the hospitals of Lower Dir district.
All outpatient departments were closed stressing out patients.
The doctors, nurses and paramedics held a rally in front of the Timergara Press Club, where workers of opposition Jamaat-i-Islami, PPP and JUI-F also showed up to show solidarity with protesters.
Provincial Doctors Association leaders Dr Nadar Khan, Dr Zakiuddin and Dr Fazal Rahim condemned violence against the KTH surgeon and demanded strict action against the culpable minister.
They warned that after OPDs, the doctors would close emergency wards as well if the minister and his guards weren’t booked.
However, the doctors of Chitral’s DHQ Hospital didn’t boycott duty on Saturday and examined more than 300 patients in OPD and others in emergency and other departments.
The doctors of the civil hospitals in Drosh and Booni area and six rural health centres and 21 basic health units of the district also did their duty.
District health officer Dr Haiderul Mulk said the doctors were fully aware of the hardships of patients in Ramazan and therefore, they won’t go on strike before Eidul Fitr.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2019