Tag Archives: chief justice

Role of Media in doctors’ alienation from the society

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

“The Lahore High Court ordered young doctors on Saturday to end their strike and resume work in outpatient and inpatient departments of all government hospitals from Monday morning,’’ reads a headline in today’s local newspaper.

Photo credits: Dr Osman Zia

By now, thanks to our vibrant electronic media, most of you must have heard this news already. However special attention must be paid to the phrase ‘from Monday morning,’ which means the court has given the doctors a deadline till Monday to return to their duties. Until then they can’t be accused of contempt of court if they don’t start their work. But our Azad Media wants us to believe otherwise. Infact I was at first shocked and then angered at the way our channels very conveniently omitted the above mentioned phrase and kept on opining in breaking news how the doctors were not following court orders as they were still on strike in OPDs and indoors…!

This is just an illustration of how the facts can be twisted by media and how doing so can color the emotions of the general public. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start a debate on the conspiracy theory that most of our media has been sold off to the Punjab Government on the doctors’ issue. Being an optimistic Pakistani, I don’t want to believe in this theory because I’ve seen this same media standing up for its freedom countless times. I remember how it reported in detail the visits of the Chief Justice to various bar associations during the lawyer’s movement much to the displeasure of the then government; how the Musharraf regime pressurized the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan (CAP) to take GEO and Aaj TV off their network for criticizing the Pakistan Army; how the Zardari-gilani led elected government wanted gag orders for media in the NRO implementation case…but the media showed persistence throughout and stuck to the principals of free and independent reporting.

On the other hand, we have also seen examples of how the media over-sensationalized simple news items to increase their TRP (Target rating points). The on-going doctors’ strike is sadly such an issue. In the first few days of the peaceful OPD strike, visuals of patients crying due to their sufferings were shown again and again without even mentioning the fact that these patients were being duly treated in the emergencies and indoors…! As the strike progressed, anchorpersons kept on bemoaning that patients were ‘dying’ due to the doctors’ stubbornness. However as I mentioned in my previous blog, an anchorperson on GeoTv admitted the fact that no death had taken place during the first 12 days of the OPD strike until the crackdown on doctors by Punjab police after which doctors were forced to take shelters in their homes to avoid arrests. Moreover the brutal torture of doctors was also not widely reported so much so that when this was brought up in discussions on Social Media, many people refused to believe so. Now in the culmination of the issue when the Lahore High Court has intervened and issued direct orders, we again see how the media is misreporting the facts.

I don’t know why the media is doing this neither am I interested in finding out but all I can see is that due to this irresponsible behavior of the media, the common man is turning against the doctors. He is forced to believe that doctors are selfish souls who are making their patients suffer just for monetary gains. When infact the truth is not so simple and not so gruesome!

Before the situation worsens any further, the media must stop and re-analyze its strategy in unbiased reporting of the facts. Or else we may see mass shunning of doctors by civil society and social organizations as happened in India. During the Junior Doctors’ strike in Rajasthan last year, the milkmen discontinued the supply of milk to doctors while the trade associations closed their shops to show displeasure against the Residents. Thankfully the state of affairs in Pakistan has not reached that level yet but it could soon be heading towards the social alienation of doctors if the media does not watch itself.

Having said that, I also believe that the doctors must re-define their policy as well. They shouldn’t at any cost disobey the orders of LHC because doing so will further tarnish their image in the eyes of the general public which firmly believes in this independent judiciary. However this doesn’t mean that the doctors should give up their just demand of service structure. Instead they should find an alternative way to lodge their protest. For instance setting up free medical camps outside government hospitals; wearing black armbands to show their displeasure with the Punjab Government for reneging on its promises and also doing awareness seminars all over Pakistan to explain to the civil society how a proper service structure for doctors would eventually improve the healthcare system. What purpose would this serve? It would unite the doctors, civil society and media against the government. Because under the present circumstances, the doctors can’t hope to win their battle alone. And even if they do, it’ll be a very uphill task in which the respect of this noble profession may be lost. Are the doctors willing to pay that price?

P.S. I would clarify here that I’m not against doctors’ strikes in OPDs as long as they are serving a purpose and are for a long-term benefit to the healthcare system. But in the present scenario, a continued strike would further alienate doctors and that’s why I think it should be called off.

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Magic with Medicine

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By Farkhanda Qaiser

They say, “Doctors should be compassionate and selfless. They should serve people without even expecting a reward. Thus they should never have come on the roads to ask for a payrise because doing so adversely affected their saint-like image in the society.”

I say, “Well yes, doctors should be Munna-bhai-MBBS cum Dr-Patch-Adams-type but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a family to cater for.  A wife to look after; children to send off to good schools; sky-rocketing inflation to tend to; electricity bills to pay despite using hand fans most of the time and alot more expenses just like any middle-class person of this country!

And let’s not forget the fact that a doctor is one who has studied the most in his life. Most of them have remained toppers all throughout their school and college lives (at least the ones in my university have). They remained shut in books when their counterparts enjoyed their lives. They were the ones who went through the grinding five years of medical education but worse was still to come. The inhumane 36-48 hours continuous duties in hospitals as part of house job.  Serving people day in, day out and doing it so meticulously that sometimes their own families were neglected. After leaving many relatives sour (as perhaps a wedding or two were missed due to hospital duties); spending many a Eid in the ‘Emergency’ or preparing for the Post graduate exams; missing the childhood of their own children as the ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ Doctor were too busy treating others’ children to have time for their own and countless other sacrifices, THEY still expect us to sacrifice some more…We should be content with the meager amount we get for our services…We, the most skilled and most drilled section of the society should be content with a lowly paid government job…WHY? Just because we are doctors? Just because we took the Hippocratic Oath?

Are we not humans like the rest of you?

Do we not have wishes and needs?

Maybe not, because if we did, then the public would have supported us in our cause like the came out in mass to support the lawyers to restore the Chief Justice…

or Perhaps,  our cause is not flashy enough to the likes of people…

Why is it that our nation supports some causes and completely ignores others? Every single person came forward to help the flood affectees and the earthquake victims before that. Many newly wed brides gave away their gold; children stacked away their pocket money to give for the President or Prime Minister fund; businessmen donated generously;  celebrities came to telethons and generated huge amounts of cash for their suffering brothers and sisters, in short, the entire nation came together for a purpose and they succeeded to some extent. However, their actions were not sustained. After the initial dust had settled, all except a few forgot about any flood or earthquake and whether the victims still needed their help or not. That is how long-lived our motivation was!

We become excited by the preliminary gush of blood but then cooled off…

What is it that we are lacking?

A sense of social responsibility, it is. Every citizen has the duty to serve his country in any way possible. It doesn’t have to be huge. It’s just the huqooq-ul-ibaad that he has to fulfill. No littering as it might bother someone. No breaking of the queue as it could violate somebody’s rights. No lying or cheating as that would be synonymous to hurting Allah as Allah lives in everyone’s hearts. Fulfilling your positive role in the society – be helpful to your neighbors; teach the poor children for free; take out some time for the underprivileged – the orphans, the widows and the disabled. Stand up for a just cause; for the downtrodden; for the ones awaiting justice and for the ones who have been wronged. Own your heroes; make them feel loved just because they served their country in any field whatsoever, showbiz, sports, education or even social welfare. Be sincere to your job whether it’s that of a tailor or a doctor…not for the sake of appeasing people but for the sake of fulfilling your social responsibility.

If we can do this, then no force in this world can stop us from becoming a great nation.

We don’t lack the motivation; we lack the will to sustain it and the direction to use it in.