ISLAMABAD: Employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), who have been demanding repeal of the Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Act, on Monday announced that they would stop officers of the MTI from entering their offices from Tuesday (today).

However, it has been observed that the strike is mainly supported by non-gazetted employees of the hospital and even young doctors do not bother to attend the protests.

It is worth mentioning that for the last fortnight, employees have closed out-patient departments (OPDs) and suspended elective surgeries at the hospital. Due to the strike, around 10,000 patients, who come to OPDs daily, have suffered and 300 elective surgeries had been disrupted.

In November 2020, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Ordinance under which the hospital was to be run through a board of governors (BoG) entrusted to deal with the affairs of Pims. Members were appointed and notified by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on the recommendation of a search and nomination council.

Even though employees protested against the ordinance, it had sailed through the Parliament. Later, appointments were made under the MTI Act.

The current government passed the MTI Repeal Bill and sent it to the president to get his nod but he returned it with a suggestion to reconsider it. Now, the government is left with no choice but to pass the bill again in a joint session to make it an Act of law.

On Monday, spokesperson Federal Health Alliance (FHA) Dr Asfandyar Khan said that employees had lost patience after a protest of 15 days and had decided that they will not allow the officers, appointed through MTI, to enter in offices from Tuesday (today). Leader of the employees Syed Manzar Abbas Naqvi said that the employees were raising their voices against conspiracies against the hospital.

“We are united and will continue our efforts till the approval of the MTI Repeal bill,” he said.

Employees also held a rally and participants walked from the main gate of the hospital to the OPD of the cardiac centre.

Meanwhile, it has been observed that the protests are mostly attended by non-gazetted employees of the hospital and doctors, apart from some union leaders including Dr Haider Abbasi and Dr Asfandyar Khan, hardly bother to attend. A doctor of the hospital, wishing not to be quoted, said that a number of doctors wanted to treat patients but they were being blackmailed by the lower staff as it (the staff) was not ready to treat patients.

“I know that a number of patients come to Pims from far flung areas hoping that they will get free treatment but return disappointed,” he said. “I want to do surgery of patients but my technicians are not willing to cooperate with me,” he said.

The NHS ministry spokesperson, Sajid Shah, told Dawn that the ministry was well aware of the situation and efforts were being made to resume services in the hospital at the earliest.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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