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LAHORE, June 26: In a ‘surprise move’, the Pakistan Medical Association has invited all the major private hospitals and 26 medical organizations to launch a vigorous campaign against the Punjab government after talks between the health authorities and agitating doctors hit a deadlock on the issue of service structure.

A source privy to the development told Dawn the owner of Doctors’ Hospital is the only one who did not respond to the PMA letter while the rest showed interest in the move.

If launched successfully, the PMA agitation may jeopardize the healthcare system at the public and private sectors.

The source claimed that at present the medical community has split into two groups on the issue of launching agitation for the service structure. One is backed jointly by the Medical Teachers Association, Punjab, and the principal of a government medical college while the other group has the support of PMA.

He said the PMA has ‘woken up of slumber’ of some six years after its last agitation launched during the Pervez Elahi rule in Punjab for the regularization of doctors.

It was the newly-formed Young Doctors Association which has been launching agitation in Punjab for the cause of the young doctors during the last two years or so.

A senior office-bearer of the association said the PMA being the parent body of the medical community having countrywide network was launching a ‘separate movement’ against the Punjab government for the service structure. The YDA Punjab, he said, would not be the part of the PMA move. It may be added that it was the YDA which originally started agitation for service structure last year and now some two months ago.

He claimed a separate move was announced when the PMA and YDA developed serious differences over the issue of agitation for the service structure.

He said that there were two major factors behind the PMA move. “One of the factors is a serving senior bureaucrat in the Punjab government who has strongly opposed any further incentive to the agitating doctors while the second is the YDA Punjab itself which has launched agitation without taking into confidence the PMA”.

PMA general secretary Dr Izhar Ahmad Chaudhry told Dawn “we have called a grand joint meeting of all the representatives of major private and public sector hospitals and medical organizations on Wednesday (today) to devise a future strategy”.

He said Prof Dr Shahida Khawaja from National Hospital Defence and Private Hospitals Association general secretary Dr Mazhar Iqbal would also attend the meeting besides Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians president Dr Tariq Mahmood Mian.

The other medical associations which will join the PMA in the Wednesday meeting include Society of Surgeons Pakistan, Pakistan Orthopedic Association, Pakistan Society of Anesthesia, Radiological Society of Pakistan, Pakistan Association of Pathologists, Basic Sciences Medical Teachers Association Punjab, Opthalmological Society of Pakistan, Pakistan Cardiac Society, etc.

Dr Izhar confirmed that the PMA had excluded YDA from its new initiative for not taking the major organization (PMA) into confidence before launching protest for the service structure.

To a question, he alleged that Punjab chief secretary Nasir Khosa had created a deadlock in the dialogue process between the representatives of the medical organizations and health authorities.