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Strike call echoes in corridors of hospitals

LAHORE, Jan 3: Sticking to their ‘non-professional’ and polemic attitude, the young doctors on Thursday – the third day of the New Year -- greeted hundreds of patients at government hospitals with the message of strike.

Several charged young doctors and activists and office-bearers of the Young Doctors Association Punjab also withdrew their services from emergencies of some teaching hospitals like the Punjab Institute of Cardiology and the Children’s Hospital in the provincial capital.

This time round the young doctors faced immense criticism from within the medical community besides civil society, and patients and their attendants. Their senior colleagues condemned assault on the Gujranwala DHQ hospital medical superintendent and other doctors.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) had already described it as a shameful act. “The PMA unanimously and strongly condemned physical torture by young doctors on Medical Superintendent of District Headquarters Hospital, Gujranwala and other senior doctors,” the PMA secretary general said in a statement.

He said an emergent meeting of the PMA Lahore office-bearers was called and the House also unanimously passed a resolution against the young doctors. Presided over by Dr Tanveer Anwar, the meeting was attended by all office-bearers of the association and a number of senior doctors.

“This incident has tarnished the medical profession, in particular doctor’s community,” Dr Izhar regretted. He said a meeting of the PMA provincial council was called on Friday (today) at the PMA House to decide future line of action.

Meanwhile, the administrative and general cadre doctors also spoke against the YDA Punjab. They said the young doctors in Gujranwala had roughed up the senior medics on a petty administrative issue. They believe that the YDA Punjab had twisted the Gujranwala incident towards service structure at the eleventh hour.

In a statement on Thursday, the General Cadre Doctors Association Punjab announced its disassociation from the ‘so-called’ strike of young doctors and asked its 16,000 members to keep providing services to the patients without fear.

GCDA President Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh said the YDA Punjab had stretched a small-scale protest of a group of young doctors from a district to all over the province when local news channels broadcast footages of torture of senior doctors.

Rejecting warnings and reservations of their senior colleagues, the young medics shut down health services at OPD and indoor departments. They took round of the wards early on Thursday and forced their colleagues to leave patients in the lurch.

At the Children’s Hospital, the young doctors even refused to give treatment to the ailing infants. More than 2,000 children were denied treatment at OPD of the hospital as the department had been closed early in the morning.

Similarly, the children brought with complaints at the emergency department were referred to the other health facilities when a group of young doctors denied them entry, parents and witnesses alleged.

PROTEST: Several lady doctors and family members of the arrested doctors lodged protest against the police and the Gujranwala DHQ hospital administration. They were demanding immediate release of the arrested doctors.

They said the clash between young and senior doctors was a “conspiracy to defame the medical community”.

The young doctors rejected the strike call at the Bahawal Victoria Hospital, where MS Dr Muhammad Irshad claimed that the young doctors performed their duties as usual.