Young doctors oppose privatisation of healthcare facilitiesArchive
RAWALPINDI: Healthcare professionals from three government hospitals in Rawalpindi staged a protest on Wednesday against the provincial government’s plan to privatise health facilities in Punjab.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led provincial government has planned to privatise health facilities in 10 Punjab districts by October 31. Besides, the protesters also condemned the federal government’s action against the paramedical staff in Islamabad.
Over 200 doctors and nurses from the Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital gathered at the BBH auditorium to condemn police action against paramedical staff at a seminar that later turned into a demonstration.
The protesters reached Murree Road, where they observed a two-hour sit-in. They chanted slogans against the PML-N government, which they said, had failed to devise policies for the benefit of health professionals.
Young Doctors Association (YDA) Rawalpindi representatives Dr Haider Akhtar, Dr Umer Warraich, Dr Zubair Gujjar, Dr Saad Cheema and Dr Ishfaq Ahmed participated in the meeting that later morphed into a protest.
Dr Akhtar told Dawn that the YDA Punjab had decided to protest against the Punjab government every week to pressure it to stop outsourcing health facilities.
He said the YDA Punjab had also decided to surrender its seven-point demand and focus on the government’s decision to privatise healthcare facilities in villages and small towns.
“Starting next week YDA Punjab will protest alongside lawyers, traders and civil society members. If the government does not meet our demands, it will turn into an anti-government protest, since many political parties are pursuing doctors to seek their support,” Dr Akhtar said.
He said doctors and patients were suffering at government hospitals due to lack of proper equipment and facilities. In addition, the government claims to have billions in funding, but on the ground, he added, hospitals lacked facilities. Dr Akhtar questioned where exactly the funding was going.
“Rawalpindi doctors and paramedical staff will send a delegation to the doctors’ protest camp in Islamabad to express solidarity with them. We will also participate in their next protest as we feel their demands should be met,” Akhtar said.
He added that a strike of the outdoor patients department would be the last option, and that YDA Punjab will organise two protests in the coming weeks. He said if their demands were not met, doctors and paramedical staff would strike.
Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2015
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