Before starting medical practice, all medical professionals take the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ pledging to observe the medical code of ethics. Under this oath, health of the patient is the first consideration and top priority of the medics which they pledge to protect in all circumstances and conditions. Regrettably, black-bands, strikes and closing down of the OPD’s and Emergencies have become the favourite tools of the protesting young doctors at the Public hospitals in Punjab. In this way, Young Doctors Association (YDA) is not only disregarding the Hippocratic Oath taken by them but also violating the law of the land. Peeda Act strictly prohibits such kind of behavior and activities by any government employees. Under section 5(3) of the Punjab Essential Services (maintenance) Act, 1958, whoever discontinues or causes the discontinuance of an essential service is guilty of an offence and liable to punishment. Punjab government has formally declared the health services as essential service for this purpose.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) is the lawful representative body of the medical professionals in the country. It only has the right to act as the collective bargaining agent on behalf of all medics. Helping and guiding the new entrants in the medical profession is one of the basic objectives of the PMA. Regrettably, Not only did it fail to represent the young doctors effectively, but also failed to be a mediator and facilitator to resolve the YDA-government standoff. During the whole conflict, its role was dubious and anomalous. By all this, it has given the impression of using the YDA as its ‘militant wing’ to pressurize the government for their own demands. Likewise PMDC, the regulatory body for the medical professions, also failed to ensure the compliance of medical code of ethics by the young doctors. So far, it has only been a silent spectator over all the violations made by the young medics.

In Punjab, medical professionals are paid allowance almost equal to their basic pays. No other government employee in any other department is paid any such ad hoc allowance. Besides, serving in public hospital, they have also a unique opportunity to earn from ‘tax free’ private practices. Now, YDA has started using making demands for free health-care, diagnostic facilities and medicine for the common people in public hospitals just to legitimize their irrational and illegal practices and get some popular support.

Ironically, these same common and poor people are the major affectees and ultimate sufferers resulting from the doctors’ agitation. Public sector hospitals are the only choice they have. There have been reports of many deaths in these hospitals for the want of medical care and attendance. So in the name of some ‘great cause’, there are only unjustified demands made by the unauthorised individuals being executed in illegal way.

MOHSIN RAZA MALIK,

Lahore, February 15.