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Monday, February 6, 2023
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Doctors’ protest

The scenes showing doctors being dragged and baton charged by police in Quetta create a sense of utter disappointment about the health system in Pakistan. Doctors are considered the most educated segment of society but they have gone hoarse demanding their rights while resorting to street protest. In fact, the masses are paying the price for the standoff between doctors and the government. Whilst it is unfair to patients to have to go through not just inconvenience but, at times, life threatening situations, one must also save some sympathy for the crying doctors who are battling against a disinterested and indifferent government. The provincial government officials have failed to give an ear to their issues, which has been taking a heavy toll on the already distressed patients. Doctors claim that the situation at public hospitals is worst while the government is not paying attention to the healthcare sector. Their demands include better remuneration, provision of medicines for the treatment of patients, modern equipment and an overall improvement in working conditions at government hospitals. They have also opposed government launched health cards.

Although the Young Doctors Association’s (YDA’s) concerns are justified, these protests are causing further backlogs and delays in providing urgent care in an already faltering and inadequate healthcare system. Patients are facing untold miseries in getting required treatment at those health facilities, where doctors are staging protests. The government needs to rise to the responsibility of rehabilitating our ailing healthcare system, as well as addressing the genuine concerns of doctors. This democratic government should pay attention to the needs of the public and come to the rescue of ailing citizens, who have no resources to visit private hospitals.

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Already the public hospitals are ill equipped, understaffed and too few to serve the growing medical needs of the urban populace. Because of the lack of hospitals in rural and suburban centres, people from these regions also travel into the cities for healthcare, which also impacts the doctor-patient ratio. Due to these issues, brain drain is becoming a chronic problem for Pakistan. It is high time that the government negotiated with the doctors’ community to end hardship of patients.

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