LAHORE, Feb 2: The Health Department has banned ‘doctors’ strikes’ in public health facilities for an ‘indefinite period’ citing a Supreme Court order. The measure backfired as Young Doctors Association (YDA) activists have refused to follow the order calling it a violation of their fundamental rights, Dawn has learnt.

The Supreme Court took suo motu notice on Monday of scores of heart patients’ deaths in Lahore because of a spurious pill.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked doctors not to observe strikes. His direction addressed the YDA who had announced a Punjab-wide strike for the release of Punjab Institute of Cardiology doctors by police and the FIA.Following court remarks, the Health Department issued a letter directing the heads of medical colleges and hospitals in Punjab and senior Health Department officials to take affidavit from their subordinate doctors that they would not observe strike and abide by directions of the Supreme Court in letter and spirit.

The letter was also issue Pakistan Medical Association and YDA office-bearers.

The letter said the Supreme Court has remarked doctors represent a noble profession and patients need their care and attention. It is not consonance with spirit of noble calling to go on strike and leave the patients unattended.

It further said as in the event of their strike/boycott, the patients under treatment in the PIC or any other hospital are likely to suffer and their fundamental right of ‘right to life’ may seriously compromise, it is directed that no doctor shall go on strike and shall attend to their respective duties.

“The above directions of the supreme court of Pakistan shall be served upon all doctors serving in their respective institutions for compliance. And acknowledgements of the received of this direction by all doctors shall be obtained”, the letter concluded.

YDA activists acknowledge the Supreme Court directions but reject the department’s policy of getting written deals from them.

YDA representatives launched a movement through text messages asking their colleagues not to abide by the instructions.

One of their text messages reads, “As you know the Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken suo moto on PIC medicines issue and also asked YDA not to go on strike on this particular issue to which we agree but it is really unfortunate that our admin officials are trying to abuse this thing and now threaten us by asking every one to give in writing that we would not go on strike forever.

“As for as strike is concerned it is our legal right, and every one all over the world has this right. We reject this nonsense policy of the admin and condemn it. No one should give any thing in writing to admin and simply refused to sign any thing. Be united”.

The YDA has used the strike as an effective weapon during their 37-day strike for better salaries last year.

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