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Currently, there is a lot of talk over the young doctors of Punjab, who have been on a strike for several days, demanding the implementation of a proper service structure for their profession. These strikes have been exploited by the Punjab government, in collaboration with the media of Pakistan, to create a nationwide negative image of the doctors and their profession. Owing to the media’s manipulated and twisted depiction of the situation, the people have begun to see doctors as inhumane beings that care for money alone and not for their patients’ precious lives.
The demands of the doctors are not only just; but are also supposed to benefit the health system and the patients. The Chief Minister, being a hypocrite, has turned away from the promises he made last year; and teamed up with the media to create propaganda against the doctors.
In this post, we will explain this issue from an unbiased and realistic point of view, explaining all the facts that the media purposefully twists or omits, to give the readers an insight into what REALLY is happening; summing up the discussion with some interesting facts that curiously evade the eyes of the media.
(PLEASE NOTE: Whatever we have stated about the government hospitals in this article is what we saw with our own eyes; provided we belong to Nishtar Hospital. Further details about any of the point regarding the government hospitals will be happily made available)
1. The background of doctors' strikes
a. The strike of March 2011
b. The strike of June-July 2012
2. The Government's Violent Response
3. The role of media - a whore for money
4. Some truths that everybody should know
5. The CM's "Revolutionary" steps for Health Department
6. The Absolute Verdict
THE BACKGROUND OF DOCTORS’ STRIKES:
1. The Strike of March 2011:
The public tends to view the doctors as “messiah” – the saviours; however it must be noted that the doctors are also humans and require an appropriate pay to fulfill their needs. Until last year, the doctors had but a meager pay of Rs. 18,000 (Please note that this was the pay of YOUNG recruited doctors; not the senior doctors).
Owing to this, the young doctors of Punjab went on a strike last March, demanding a pay raise along with the implementation of a service structure. The following table highlights the main points behind the demand of the doctors:
Back then, the government of Punjab showed an extremely rigid attitude, but after a tireless effort by the young doctors, agreed to fulfill their demands. The pay of young recruited doctors was raised to Rs. 24,000 for House Officers and around Rs. 40,000 for PGRs. The government promised to make arrangements for a service structure in the following budget.
2. The Strike of June-July 2012:
As mentioned, the government had promised to implement a service structure for doctors in the upcoming budget, but when the time came; they broke their promise (as was expected from them)
The doctors went on a PEACEFUL STRIKE wearing black ribbons on their arms for 2 weeks, during which the government paid no heed.
In countries with an educated government, a peaceful protest by the cream of the nation is enough to provoke a negotiation (e.g. the strikes of Germany this year, in which the doctors wore black ribbons for 2 hours; provoking a favourable response from the government)
Unfortunately, the government of Punjab isn’t good at all, and as a result, the doctors were forced to take measures like closing down the Out-patient Department. (This doesn’t mean that the patients were left to die; they were simply referred to the emergency or indoors; and were treated as needed. The operation theatres were functional as well)
THE GOVERNMENT’S VIOLENT RESPONSE:
On 1st of July, as the doctors of YDA sat for a meeting at Services Hospital Lahore - prior to a scheduled press conference - they were brutally attacked Punjab police. Punjab police started to arrest doctors as if they were terrorists, raiding the hostels and torturing the detained. This all occurred before the doctors could even officially announce the results of their meeting.
The following morning, the hospitals were teeming with policemen, arresting many doctors and threatening them; after which the hospitals’ emergencies had to be shut down; the young doctors could not work in a hostile environment where they would be arrested on sight.
|Dr. Nadeem placed on ventilator|
Dr. Nadeem, a YDA representative from Gangaram was brutally tortured, suffering a paralysis of the right side, and has been on a ventilator since.
Dr. Usman Zafar was also tortured and moved to an unknown location; his status is currently unknown.
Both of the legs of Dr. Aamir were broken along with a spinal injury.
Even the homes of the doctors were raided. The 2-years old daughter of Dr. Mazhar, a YDA representative from Multan, was taken from her home; and was returned on the condition that Dr. Mazhar would offer his own arrest.
The lady doctors were humiliated by being forced out of their hostels at 2 a.m. in the night; with nowhere to go for shelter.
Right now; more than 350 doctors are under detention and are facing torture.
|Dr. Usman Dar's son in a silent protest to release the captive doctors and roll back the false accusations|
THE ROLE OF MEDIA – A WHORE FOR MONEY:
Throughout the strike, the print and electronic media, being heavily paid by the government, played a FILTHY and DISGUSTING role. The print media and TV channels showed ads full of lies in order to provoke the people into hating the doctors.
An inside report tells that Rs. 1.6 million per day was
spent wasted each day
for huge ads against the doctors in newspapers; and 450 million for ads
in TV channels. These resources could have been used in a better way.
The entire blame for the natural deaths of the patients was put on the doctors. The media tried to show that the doctors are striking for payraise; while infact they were only demanding a service structure that was already promised to them.
The media is quick to attribute the dozen natural deaths to the doctors; but it does not mention the pitiable health facilities provided by the government (that we mention below); nor does it pay attention to trivial issues conditions e.g. each day 1132 people die due to poverty; WHY doesn’t the government get blamed for that??
The media of Pakistan has been notorious for false propagandas.
Have all the people forgotten the planted interview of Malik Riaz, the false reports on Ajmal Qasab, the false reports on Osama Bin Laden and many more?
What a shame; even forwarded text messages find their way into the news (as we proved in our article here: http://absoluteverdict.blogspot.com/2011/10/exposing-pakistani-media-exclusive-look.html)
SOME TRUTHS THAT EVERYBODY SHOULD KNOW:
1. During the strike, no patient died at the hands of the doctors! When the OPDs were shut down, the patients were admitted through Emergency Dept. and the Operation Theatres remained functional.
2. The doctors demanded a service structure that was promised to them; they did NOT ask for a pay raise as was portrayed in the Government’s print ads.
3. The pay of the young doctors is NOT over Rs. 70,000 as the Government’s ads stated. This pay is achieved when the doctors come to the level of Asst. Professor after 20 years of service. The pay of the young recruited doctors is Rs. 24000. The salary of grade 17 doctors is 42000 to 44000 per month with all the allowances, and the salary of grade 18 doctors is 52000 to 54000 which is contrary to the claims to the Punjab Government who have presented false figures regarding the salaries of the doctors in media. According to the government the salary of the grade 17 doctors is form 60000 to 76000 and grade 18 doctors is 61000 to 1,36000.
|Payslip of a grade 18 doctor|
4. The natural deaths in the hospitals were attributed to the young doctors. The media did not state the causes of death in any of the patients. In Pakistan, a huge number of patients turn up in the hospitals only at the terminal stages of their illness, due to which natural deaths upto the number stated are not uncommon.
5. Reports stating that doctors purposefully killed patients (e.g. a child with a drip) have also been proven to be false. (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=415971275110938)
THE CM’s “REVOLUTIONARY” STEPS FOR THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT:
After the above discussion, it also seems appropriate to shed some light on the actual progress of the health dept. , something that curiously evades the media.
1. The current budget allows only 1.3% of the total to the health department; which is lower than most of the developing nations. According to this budget, each individual in Punjab receives only Rs. 120 for his hospital expenses.
2. The medicines provided in the government hospitals are of EXTREMELY POOR QUALITY and POTENCY and come from infamous firms. These medicines are not available in any market and are supplied only to these hospitals. According to a report, the nameless firms making these medicines belong to one of the acquaintances of the Health Secretary (Details available on request). The government doctors are forced to violate the rules and ask the patients to buy medicines from the pharmacy stores for their own safety.
Ironically, the media has also not shown anything about the real culprits of the recent deaths that occurred in Punjab Institute of Cardiology due to substandard medicine.
3. The CT Scan, MRI, X-Ray and OT equipment in the government hospitals are mostly out of order, and when functional, of poor quality.
4. The CM has not appointed a Health Minister throughout his 5 year term. A field as broad as health deserves a dedicated ministry, preferably led by a doctor, rather than a mental patient like himself who owns 18 ministries to his name.
THE ABSOLUTE VERDICT:
The above discussion makes it clear – the doctors are just in their demands. The culprit to blame is the Chief Minister of Punjab, who took extreme, violent and criminal measures for a cause that was easily negotiable; endangering thousands of lives, wasting millions of Rupees in fooling the nation and living upto his reputation as an enemy of the health department.
Calling the army for aid will not help; 150 army doctors can not possibly take the place of the thousands of young doctors. Negotiation is a necessity to solve a situation like this.
If you don't even have the sense to negotiate, you do not even deserve to be called a leader!!
We would really like to question: “Khadim-e-aala” or “Kaatil-e-aala”????
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