QUETTA: Doctors on Tuesday observed a strike in two government hospitals in the provincial capital in protest against the arrest of young doctors on Monday and refused to hold talks with the government till the acceptance of their demands.
The protesting doctors claimed that the strike was observed in all government hospitals across Balochistan. However, doctors remained on duty in cardiology and gynaecology departments.
The doctors, who had been arrested for violating Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and taking out a procession, have refused to leave police stations where they were kept, though the home department issued the orders for their release late on Monday night.
A government team comprising provincial ministers Zamarak Khan Piralizai, Mir Saleem Ahmed Khosa and Mir Zahoor Ahmed Buledi and coordinators Bilal Kakar and Adeel Kakar met the leaders of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) in the police station and informed them that the government had accepted their demands.
However, YDA general secretary Dr Hanif Luni and other striking doctors told the government delegation that they would not talk to them before the acceptance of their demands.
“Our demands include provision of safety gear to the doctors, their recruitment on a permanent basis instated of on contract so that they could work on vacant posts,” Dr Luni told Dawn.
He said they would remain in the police station until action was not taken against the police officials who tortured the protesting doctors.
He said: “We are observing the strike to save our doctors who are very much exposed to coronavirus.”
He said 19 doctors, technicians and paramedics have already been infected with the virus as they were not provided with safety gear and other necessary equipment. They were under treatment in Sheikh Zayed and Civil hospitals, he added.
Health authorities also confirmed that 14 doctors, including head of the cardiac department of Civil Hospital, were infected with coronavirus, while four technicians and six employees of the Director General Health Office also tested positive for Covid-19. “They are under treatment in isolation wards of Sheikh Zayed Hospital,” said Dr Wasim Baig, a spokesman for Civil Hospital.
Balochistan government’s spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said that the doctors had been provided safety kits and other protective items.
He said that the provincial cabinet had already accepted the demands of the doctors and approved recruitment of more doctors on approved posts in the health department. He said that the services of around 500 contract doctors had also been extended till further orders.
Meanwhile, patients admitted to Civil Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex Hospital Complex faced difficulties due to the strike by doctors.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2020