KARACHI: Poor patients’ sufferings were compounded on Tuesday as outpatient department (OPD) services at public sector hospitals across Sindh remained closed for the second consecutive day on the call of Young Doctors Association (YDA)-Sindh.

The hospitals were earlier hit by protests of nurses, who stopped performing at general wards.

Reacting to this situation, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) stated that it opposed any means of protest that affected patient services.

“The association does not support and approve of circumstances in which the poor segments of society, already under tremendous stress, suffer. However, the association denounces the use of brutal force, baton-charge and arrest of protesting doctors [by law enforcement agencies],” said PMA-Sindh president Dr Mirza Ali Azhar.

PMA opposes such protests that affect patient services

The association, he explained, supported all genuine demands of healthcare professionals and wanted an amicable solution of this unwarranted situation.

“All people arrested during protests should be released and the best thing would be to get engaged with protesters and negotiate on their demands. We urge the government to initiate this process as soon as possible to thwart the conspiracies of depriving poor people from treatment and creating uncertainty,” he said.

Speaking to Dawn, Dr Mohammad Umer Sultan of the YDA-Sindh said the young doctors didn’t want to create problems for poor patients and that’s the reason why it had been observing only token protests for several days at hospitals and doctors continued to provide services at emergency units, operation theatres and general wards.

“But, unfortunately, there was no positive outcome, compelling us to go on a complete suspension of OPD services,” he said, adding the protest would continue till demands of the association were met.

The association is demanding an increase in risk allowance and salaries of postgraduate trainees and house officers and regularisation of all contract doctors.

“The government should make the health risk allowance a permanent feature and resolve the matter of doctors’ transfers at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and National Institute of Child Health,” Dr Sultan said.

The government, he said, should also announce 500 seats of dental surgeons and make a separate cadre for the hiring of medico-legal officers.

A day earlier, scores of nurses were thrashed, baton-charged and briefly detained by the police when they tried to march on Chief Minister House. Most of their demands have been accepted by the government.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

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