QUETTA: The Balochistan health department has not met the demands of health professionals who had protested against a lack of protective gear to treat coronavirus patients last week and instead initiated retaliatory action, a spokesperson for the Young Doctors Association (YDA) said Wednesday.
YDA spokesperson Rahim Khan Babar said the demands were still not being met despite assurances from the provincial government on April 8, following which they had ended their boycott last week.
The provincial health department had initiated retaliatory action against the body and the protesting doctors, Babar said, adding: “The YDA trusted the committee during the negotiations and deferred its protest in the larger public interest.
“[However] there has been no report so far from the committee that was formed to probe the incident,” Babar added. “We demand that Balochistan Chief Minister [Jam Kamal Khan] take notice of the ongoing conditions.”
150 doctors arrested
Last week, on Tuesday, the YDA had led protests against the lack of personal protection equipment (PPEs) in the hospitals to treat coronavirus patients. The doctors had suspended their services in medical facilities across Balochistan.
However, Quetta police had baton-charged the doctors for protesting near the CM House and arrested at least 150 doctors. Authorities had claimed the doctors were detained for violating Section 144, which bans public gatherings.
The protests had come to an end after provincial minister Zmarak Khan announced that the government had accepted the rightful demands put forward by the YDA. “We stand with doctors and the paramedical staff,” he had said during a press conference with the association’s president, Dr Yasir Khan.
“We are putting in all our efforts to win the war against the coronavirus,” Dr Yasir Khan had said, expressing hope that the committee formed by provincial ministers to approve doctors’ demands would keep its promises.
“We know the protest made life difficult for people,” admitted Dr Yasir.
Protest upon protest
Earlier in the day, the YDA representative had demanded that the police officers involved in manhandling and arrest of the medical staff be punished. The provincial health secretary and special secretary should be removed from their posts, he had added.
“Until our demands are met, no services will be provided apart from in the labour room and cardiology department,” he had said.
It was learnt that after the protest, there was no medical staff available to treat patients at the Civil Hospital Quetta. After the boycott continued, the patients’ attendants had also protested for not being provided healthcare.
‘Doctors are messiahs’
On Monday, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani had said the provincial leadership accepted all demands put forward by doctors. “We have accepted all demands put forward by doctors,” he had said.
“Contracts of 533 doctors have been extended till June. Two hundred and five doctors and nurses have been appointed on an ad hoc basis,” Shahwani had added.
The government spokesperson had claimed that safety equipment and kits were provided to doctors and that orders to release doctors had been issued earlier in the day.
“We request the doctors to not become a part of any mafia […] We will bring changes and facilitate them,” he had said. “We salute the medical services being provided by doctors. Doctors are messiahs. Messiahs don’t boycott patients.”