As healthcare community keeps up protests, the general public suffers

Virus impact



KARACHI: Besides those protesting about other causes, demonstrators from the healthcare community have become a regular feature outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC). Protests by the health department, the association of Covid-19 nurses, paramedical staff, and Young Doctors Association (YDA) occur throughout the year.

Specifically, the protests from medics have added to the miseries of the common man, as for most of last year the associations were on strike, demanding to increase risk allowances, and salaries of postgraduate trainees and regularisation of contract doctors. Whatever the justification of these protests, it is the poor patients who have had to suffer. Even the government seemed helpless to pay the stipend to Covid-19 vaccinators and helpers who performed during the worst time of pandemic and put their lives in danger.

“Situation is not good as yet, I wish [this] year would not repeat the previous year’s chaos,” commented Dr Umer Sultan, president YDA at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

Speaking to Bol News at KPC after a press conference over Balochistan doctors’ arrest recently, he said that around the country the medics are in protest, and the government must fulfil their demands.

“Though most of the demands have been met, there are several others lingering that need to be addressed. Unless the government allocates six per cent of GDP to the health sector, the deteriorating health would face [more] turmoil,” he continued.


PMA releases report

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) also released its yearly report, saying that the medical association also offered recommendations and placed a charter of demand to improve the healthcare system. But these suggestions always fell on deaf ears. Reportedly, nothing has changed in the health sector during the past year. Instead of any improvement, things have reportedly gone from bad to worse.

The report further said that the increasing burden of Covid-19 proved to be more fatal for doctors. Till the end of 2021, 154 doctors and 32 paramedics have lost their lives due to the virus in Pakistan. The government remained careless about the welfare of the families of the deceased doctors. They announced the ‘Shuhada package’ for these families but never implemented it. The government even ignored the services of doctors while conferring civil awards of 2021 which caused desperation in the medical fraternity.

The report read that in 2021, the government continued to raise the prices of medicine which further made it difficult for the poor people to get treatment. Due to this price hike, medicine has gone out of the reach of the poor people of the country and even the middle class of our society feels burdened. Unfortunately, the present government has recently, for the twelfth time, increased drug prices during its tenure. In such conditions when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, this increase in medicine prices is adding to the misery of the people.

Speaking to Bol News, PMA official Dr Qaiser Sajjad said, “The situation is so alarming that the government must act to improve the healthcare system for the 15 million people affected with hepatitis B and C.”

Thousands of new patients are added every year due to lack of prevention, testing and treatment resources as well as poorly screened blood transfusion, improperly sterilised invasive medical devices and unsafe injections. Hepatitis B and C are several times more lethal viral diseases than the coronavirus infection and resulting in around 300 to 325 deaths daily in Pakistan.


He added that according to WHO recommendations, the health budget of any country should at least be 6pc of the national GDP. “In our case, the health budget, despite repeated PMA pleas and reminders to the government, has remained less than 1pc.”

We hope that with the joint efforts of the government, medical fraternity and public, we will eliminate fatal diseases such as breast cancer, hepatitis in 2022, he also said. “We also hope that our government will give priority to health and medical education in 2022 and the coming year will prove to be a better year for our health delivery system.”

PMA believes that proper planning including political will, honesty, increase of health budget and its proper allocation and above all the consolidated preventive measure can improve the health delivery system in 2022, he concluded.



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