Editorial : Doctors on strike - Friday 1st April 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/01/doctors-on-strike-2.html

THE loss of several precious lives in Lahore in a single day allegedly because of a protest strike by doctors brings the latter into disrepute. The young doctors working at public hospitals had been agitating for better job packages for some time. They reportedly took their extremely painful campaign to another level on Wednesday by refusing to see even ‘critical patients’ — if this distinction can be made in the case of the desperate souls who turn up at any health facility, let alone a government-run one. It is appalling to listen to accounts in which the trained hands are blamed for not performing their duty of saving a fellow human being’s life. This paper listed seven deaths resulting from the callous attitude of the doctors on Wednesday. Later investigations revealed many more such cases, completing a truly tragic picture.
The strikers should have done everything to avoid this, both as healers beholden to their oath and as professionals who must shun negative publicity as they fight for their rights. In fact, the disrepute the protesting doctors have so earned weakens their case. However, the government cannot be totally absolved of its responsibility in creating this ugly situation in public hospitals. Ultimately, the doctors’ struggle
highlights the system’s skewed priorities. Both the health sector and those who work for it are desperately short of resources and in need of quick remedies. After a long standoff, on Wednesday an adviser to the chief minister assured the protesting doctors that their service packages would be reviewed when experts prepare the next budget. For this promise to come true, he asked the doctors to return to work which is what they did on Thursday evening. If only the two sides had realised this a few days and a few deaths earlier.

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