Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Doctors in Punjab

As doctors not just provide basic health services but also create the wealth of the country, they are justified to seek the passage of such laws and service structures as may be necessary to protect it in all their rights and privileges. Their rights to organize and bargain are fully protected under the constitution and international human rights. They are not fighting for a larger slice of the provincial pie-they are fighting for a larger pie, for the preservation of a public healthcare system and not for a privatized system where the common man would be left at the mercy of insurance companies and big capital. So the state must realize its responsibilities towards its people and not abdicate them. One should ask the questions, why doctors join CSS/PCS or why do they leave Pakistan to work abroad? Why and how do we get poor quality but expensive insecticides and medicines? Why and how do we get dozens of NGOs in the province with all sorts of health projects in the field, work that the public health system should be doing? What is wrong with our healthcare system?
It is imperative that the Punjab government comes up with an honest policy on these core issues: (1.) Provision of a progressive service structure for doctors, nurses and paramedics; (2.) Designation of Department of Health as a ‘technical department’ and transfer of its management in the secretariat to senior doctors/public health professionals; and (3.) Abandon all ideas, concept papers, proposals or plans to privatize the healthcare system in the province.
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will - and it's important that the 'seth' and 'pharoah' mindsets at the highest echelons of power now heed the clarion call!

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