PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Doctors’ Council (KPDC) call for protest against the alleged thrashing of a doctor by the health minister and the move to establish regional and district health authorities received a patchy response with several consultants continuing to see patients at medical teaching hospitals on Monday.
Doctors said they would continue their protest across the province on Tuesday when their representatives would meet KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for negotiations.
The province-wide protests by doctors had erupted last week when a general surgeon had suffered a head injury after being allegedly thrashed by KP Health Minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan, his adviser and his guards at Khyber Teaching Hospital.
The protesting doctors said the strike that began on May 14 would continue till the removal of the health minister and adviser.
Protests to continue till removal of health minister and adviser, says YDA
On Monday, however, several surgeons, physicians and other consultants continued their work at Hayatabad Medical Complex in complete disregard for the call given by the KPDC for a province-wide strike.
The KPDC representatives had called for a strike at all hospitals across the province, except the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH). They said the protest would not be observed at the LRH — the province’s biggest health facility — as a goodwill gesture to reciprocate to the invitation for meeting with the chief minister on Tuesday. The LRH received more than 5,000 patients and 500 underwent surgeries.
In tertiary-care hospitals, several consultants refused to close OPDs, arguing that they could not leave unattended the patients who had come from far-flung areas to Peshawar for consultation.
Several consultants at teaching hospitals told the protesting doctors that they couldn’t deny treatment to the poor people in the holy month of Ramazan and demanded an alternative strategy to press the government into acceptance of their demands.
Amid the doctors’ protests, private clinics and hospitals that remained opened received more patients than usual. However, public sector health facilities in rural areas wore a deserted look as doctors remained busy in the protest activities and patients stayed away.
Meanwhile, the KPDC vowed to continue their strike till acceptance of their demands. They said their representatives would meet CM Mahmood Khan on Tuesday to press the government to accept their demands.
President of the Young Doctors’ Association Dr Rizwan Kundi said the protest would continue till removal of the health minister and adviser Dr Jawad Wasif, who had beaten up Dr Ziauddin Afridi, an assistant professor at the Khyber Teaching Hospital, last Tuesday. “We want the government to ensure safety of doctors so that they can perform their duties fearlessly and with devotion,” said the YDA president.
Dr Kundi said: “We will never accept the move to set up regional and district health authorities because these were meant to privatise health facilities and harm the employees as well the patients.”
He said the doctors had requested the opposition to block the passage of the law aimed at putting in place authorities at regional and district level to run the affairs of hospitals.
Health Secretary Dr Syed Farooq Jamil, however, set aside the impression that the health facilities were being privatised. He said the government had been making law to improve management of healthcare facilities and benefit patients.
The government would extend more facilities to doctors, paramedics, nurses and support staff of the hospitals to ensure provision of effective healthcare services to the people, he said.
The secretary expressed hope that better sense would prevail and doctors would resume their duties for the sake of patients.
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019