LAHORE: Rejecting all amendments by the opposition and notwithstanding the protest by the medical fraternity, the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Bill, 2019 which gives state-run health facilities under the supervision of private-sector dominated boards of governors.
Opposing the bill PML-N lawmakers Waris Kallu, ex-health minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq and Dr Mazhar Iqbal cautioned the government that the system the new enactment proposed proved to be a failure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and its replication in Punjab could ‘destroy’ the healthcare system of the biggest province too.
They said the government was passing the bill in haste without taking into consideration its repercussions.
They questioned that how could a law unacceptable to the doctors, nurses and paramedics succeed in achieving the goals the PTI government had set as its target?
House rejects amendments by Opp; plea for contempt proceedings against protesting doctors
Referring to reservations of the medical fraternity, they said it would hurt their service structures as once accepting their job in a health facility given under the MTI law, they could not be transferred to any other hospital unlike their counterparts working at the facilities where the law is not imposed.
Responding to the opposition, Law Minister Muhammad Basharat Raja claimed that the bill was tabled after complete deliberations with the stakeholders, including doctors, paramedics and nurses and that Standing Committee on Health had passed the bill unanimously.
He categorically stated that the law won’t affect jobs of government servants.
The house also passed the Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Bill, 2019 rejecting all the amendments proposed by the opposition.
CONTEMPT PLEA: The Lahore High Court has been asked to initiate contempt proceedings against young doctors for observing strike in violation of an order previously passed by the court.
Through a civil miscellaneous application filed in a pending case, Judicial Activism Panel’s chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique pleaded that the strike, agitation and protest by the doctors of government-run hospitals in Punjab had entered its 10th day, causing serious problems for the patients and discontinuation of medical services.
The lawyer pointed out that the court in the pending main case, through an interim order, had directed the doctors to avoid giving any call for strike and also restrained them from staging protest in any form, whatsoever, at any stage, in any hospital.
He said the court held that such an act by the doctors would be tantamount to contempt.
He stated that the doctors under the banner of the Grand Health Alliance (GHA) had been holding protest demonstrations against the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutes (Reforms) Act, 2019.
He submits that the doctors announced they would continue the protest as their dialogue with the government remained fruitless.
The applicant asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the doctors for deliberately violating the order.
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2020