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Patients suffering as doctors, govt slug it out: HRCP

Lahore:The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has noted with concern the suffering heaped on the people by the prolonged strike of doctors in the Punjab and the provincial government’s failure to amicably resolve the matter so far, and called upon both sides to stop their wrangling for the sake of the people.

HRCP said in a statement on Monday, “Protests and strikes and doctors are not unheard of in Pakistan but they had never led to suspension of emergency care. That has changed since last year. HRCP believes that doctors abandoning their life-saving vows to press for their demands is utterly indefensible and has contributed to the loss of sympathy for them among the people.

“Some of the protesting doctors’ demands may be justified, but the ongoing wrangling is symptomatic of the anarchy of thought and practice in the country where neither side is willing to abandon its stance for the sake of an amicable settlement. Both sides have shown no inclination to budge and have sought to achieve a stronger bargaining position by resorting to threats.

“HRCP also does not support the coercive tactics by the Punjab government aimed at finding a solution. Who can disagree with the need for discipline in service, but the government’s ham-handed methods to deal with protests have lowered its credit. The grievances of the doctors have accumulated over time and that too is for the government to make sure that that does not happen. The matter must be resolved at the earliest. The medical profession was the first one in Pakistan to be regulated by a professional body. The prevailing stalemate is also a reflection on the performance of that body. How the role and representative character of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council has been eroded also deserves to be examined. Ultimately, it is imperative that a high-powered commission is established to examine the affairs of public healthcare in Pakistan, including the skill and knowledge of the doctors who are allowed to treat patients, especially those who have studied abroad or in private colleges, to ensure that the practice of learning on the job comes to an end in the country’s hospitals.”

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