Aftermath of Doctors’ strike

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

“Baji aap ko tu mehanga kapra dunga main…!” The shopkeeper said maliciously.

“Hain Bhai sahib? Magar kyun?” The lady was bewildered.

“Kyunki aap doctor hain…!” came the reply.

This incident occurred recently with a friend’s aunt who happens to be a dentist-turned-housewife. And I fear more such incidents as an aftermath to the young doctors’ strike and the successful negative propaganda by Punjab Government. (I call it successful because it achieved its desired result – turning majority of the civil society against doctors).

However the matter is not so simple. It will have long-term effects. This defaming media hype has created a trust deficit between the physician and the patient. The patients have been made to believe that doctors of today are purely greedy souls who would go to any limit for their pay hikes. When in fact, the truth is quite different. The issue is not about increasing salaries rather it’s about job security via a proper service structure. It’s about diminishing bureaucratic and political influence from the induction, promotion and transfers of doctors. This measure would ensure the promotion of merit as opposed to a ‘sifarish culture’ which is prevalent in our society at present. Hence, the opposition from the Punjab Government can be explained by this simple fact.

Nevertheless the sacred trust that exists between a physician and his patient must be preserved at all costs. So now it is our responsibility to bring back that lost faith. Or else we could suffer a similar fate as that of Indian doctors.

Yes, our Indian counterparts have also resorted to strikes countless times. Theirs had been an old story spreading over the course of almost 10 years. The demands were – pay hike and time-bound promotions. The response of their government was very similar to that of Punjab Government but minus the brutal crackdown i.e. appointment of ad-hoc doctors and adoption of delaying tactics to sabotage the just demands of doctors. However the public reaction was very alarming. There were innumerable cases of assaults on doctors along with token-protests by social organizations like Gujars and trade associations of Rajasthan.

Let’s hope the situation doesn’t get this bad in Pakistan.

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