LAHORE:                     -                    Police thrashed healthcare providers protesting at hunger strike camp outside the office of Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SCH&ME).

The young doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, under the banner of Grand Health Alliance (GHA), Punjab, held a hunger strike camp to protest against health authorities’ negligence and inefficiency to provide protective gear to the healthcare professionals treating coronavirus patients.

However, things started to aggravate when the protesting medics brought forward a political agenda and demanded reinstatement of suspended doctors and raise of salaries.

Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, senior vice president Dr Shoib Niazi released a list of YDA office bearers suspended during their last agitation movement against Medical Teaching Institutes (Reforms) Act.

The Health Department officials informed that, at first, the young doctors presented demand of protective kits for medics, but then started raising irrelevant demands including restoration of their suspended colleagues, who were either terminated or suspended during last agitation movement against MTI Act, as well as additional incentive for all doctors irrespective of the fact whether they were attending coronavirus patients or not. Besides, the officials said, they demanded isolation of doctors, who were tested positive for coronavirus, to be shifted in rooms of five star hotels after converting them into quarantines.

The health department officials said that it was not a time for medics to do politics on ongoing issues amidst a pandemic when entire government and health machinery were fighting against the common enemy of coronavirus.

As the young doctors, nurses and paramedical staff started agitating aggressively under the leadership of GHA Chairman and YDA President Dr Salman Haseeb and Paramedical Staff Association (PSA), Punjab Chairman Arshad Butt, the health authorities called police for maintaining peace at the secretariat.

Special Secretary Health said that young doctors, nurses and paramedical staff had occupied the whole health secretariat. “We have called police for our protection, not for arrests,” he added. Meanwhile, the police thrashed the doctors and locked them in the health secretariat. The doctors also called their colleagues from hospitals of Lahore to reach the secretariat to protect them. A large number of doctors, nurses and paramedics were protesting outside the secretariat.

The young doctors claimed that the police had failed to end their hunger strike camp as protesters reorganized themselves. They said that they would continue their protest until their demands were fulfilled.