LAHORE: Medical practitioners, opposition political parties and social circles on Tuesday decried the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Ordinance 2019.

The associations of the young doctors, nurses and paramedics pledged to resist the move.

The Young Doctors Association Reformers of South Punjab that has been a strong critic of the MTI Act, described it as a ‘black law’ that would wreak havoc on the healthcare system of the province.

The association patron-in-chief, Dr Mian Adnan, told Dawn that the law had already crippled the healthcare system of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where a number of qualified medics had left jobs in protest. He lamented that the provincial government had bypassed the Punjab Assembly and the Standing Committee on Health to avoid resistance even from the treasury benches.

Dr Adnan said the ordinance was promulgated overnight to cover up the poor performance of the government and it was meant to fool the patients in the name of reforms.

On political front, PML-N says it will move court

A meeting of the hospitals’ employees was called on Tuesday under the banner of the Grand Alliance. The office-bearers of the Young Doctors Association Punjab, paramedics and nurses expressed their shock over the government’s failure to include their proposed amendments to the ordinance.

On the other hand, the health department has warned of strict departmental action against those preparing to disrupt patient care by launching strike, rallies, protests and lockdown of the government hospitals.

Through a letter to the vice chancellors of the medical universities, principals of the colleges and medical superintendents of government

hospitals, the health department said it had been observed that some miscreants working in the hospitals are trying to disrupt provision of healthcare services delivery to the patients by using unfair means.

“This situation is intolerable and complete ban has been imposed on all sorts of political activities and gathering within premises of hospitals/education institutions,” reads the letter.

The department also banned displaying anti-government banners, posters and other means.

POLITICAL PARTIES: The move to privatise the teaching hospitals has also been criticised by political and social circles.

The PML-N announced that it would take the issue to a court of law while the second largest opposition party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, threatened taking to the street.

PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Zahid Bukhari says the government is shirking its responsibility of providing health facilities to the public by privatising the hospitals and her party will challenge the ordinance in court.

Referring to protests by young doctors and nurses when her party was in power, she says these professionals who had been opposing good policies of the Shahbaz government have seen the real face of the ‘champions of change’.

Ms Bukhari says abolishing the slots of principals and medical superintendents of teaching hospitals and giving free medical treatment there under the control of the Board of Governors means the hospitals will become political arenas where only the cabinet members and their cronies will benefit from the free health facilities.

Punjab PPP General Secretary Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad said his party rejected the decision. “It is injustice with the poor patients who cannot afford medical tests and treatment in private institutions,” he said. He said the party would soon give a line of action for protest against the ordinance implemented without getting a nod of the Punjab Assembly.

He said the PPP would raise the issue in the provincial assembly too.

The Awami Workers Party also condemned the privatisation of the teaching hospitals and said it’s a part of the agreement recently signed with the International Monetary Fund.

“This is a part of the implementation of neo-liberal agenda agreed with the IMF by the PTI government and will have devastating effects on the health of ordinary people of Punjab,” said Farooq Tariq, the spokesperson for the AWP.

He called upon the doctors and paramedical staff to resist the move.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2019

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