Peshawar: Abduction of cardiologist Doctors, KP govt lock horns over strike
Peshawar: The doctors and the provincial government are at loggerheads over a strike by the former against kidnapping of one of their colleagues. The doctors of Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) observed strike on Thursday against abduction of senior cardiologist Dr Syed Mohammad Jamal. The strike prompted Provincial Health Minister Zahir Ali Shah to hold an emergency press conference and warn doctors that action would be taken against them for observing strike.
However, Provincial Doctors Association president Dr Shahsawar told Dawn that they would go on strike at KTH and hold rallies at Lady Reading Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex on Friday.
“The doctors involved in strikes will face action for causing problems only to poor patients, visiting hospitals,” the minister told the press conference.
He said that unbecoming attitude of doctors would not be tolerated. On the other hand, Dr Shahsawar said that doctors would not succumb to any pressure and would observe strike as per schedule.
“We are ready to face any action by the provincial government,” he said and added that raising voice for their rights was not a crime.
The minister said that government had announced an amount of Rs1.3 billion for doctors in the recent past because they were observing strikes in the state-run hospitals only.
The salaries of medical officers were raised from Rs12,000 to Rs22,000 and those of trainee medical officers from Rs22,000 to Rs42,000 despite financial constraints, he said. “We will handle them with an iron hand as resorting to strikes is illegal,” the minister said.
He said that chief minister had released Rs36 million to pay salaries to the Lady Health Workers. He said that health department was making strenuous efforts to strengthen healthcare system and wanted to develop hospitals because those were visited by poor people, who could not afford fees of doctors.
The minister said that government had appointed 500 doctors on ad hoc basis and 250 others were being recruited in rural areas of the province.
He said that government would also send 150 nurses to hospitals in UK and other countries for training during the next three years.
“The existing nursing staff will get four-year degree courses at Shifa University Islamabad, Aga Khan Hospital Karachi, King Edwards University Lahore and Khyber Medical University Peshawar,” he said.
Reacting to the minister`s warning, Dr Shahsawar said that several doctors had been kidnapped during the past few months. They were released after payment of millions of rupees as ransom and the government failed to devise an effective strategy for their security, he added.
“The government had formed a committee to redress grievances of doctors in case of any issue but the body is ineffective as government is not giving it due weight,” he said.
The PDA leader said that government had increased salaries of doctors but it did not mean that they would remain silent even when their colleagues were kidnapped.
He added that it was duty of the government to ensure proper security to doctors otherwise they would continue to raise voice for their rights. Dr Syed Mohammad Jamal was kidnapped on Oct 31 when he was going home, situated in Hayatabad. “The motorcar of the kidnapped doctor was left hardly at a distance of 200 yards from his residence,” police said.
The family members of the kidnapped doctors said that they got no clue about his whereabouts and were waiting to get any information in that regard.