QUETTA - The protesting doctors decided Thursday to continue their strike at all the state-run hospitals throughout Balochistan till acceptance of their demands, including reimbursement of ransom amount by the government kitty and arrest of the culprits involved in the kidnapping and targeted killing of doctors. However, they announced to keep open all private hospitals and their clinics. These decisions were taken by doctors during a meeting of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Balochistan chapter’s general body at the Provincial Sandeman Hospital with Dr Sultan Tareen, the regional president of PMA in the chair.

The meeting reviewed the situation in detail arising after the release of senior psychiatrist Dr Ghulam Rasool, who was abducted on August 1 by unknown armed men but later released on August 17 reportedly following the payment of the ransom amount Rs 50 million.

The PMA had announced strike over the abduction and twice suspended emergency services for 24 hours each at all the hospitals across the province.  However, they continued their protest even after the release of their senior colleague till the arrest of abductors, but announced to resume their 'business' in private hospitals and clinics.

The general body prepared a four-point charter of demands to be presented to the provincial government and decided to continue their strike in the state-run hospitals till the acceptance of their demands - reimbursement of the ransom amount, provision of security to all doctors inside and outside the hospital, arrest of kidnappers of Dr Ghulam Rasool and Dr Deen Muhammad Baloch and culprits involved in the targeted killing of doctors in the province.

The meeting clarified that no doctor would attend the OPDs (Outdoor Patient Departments) and the general wards during the strike throughout the province. However, it decided they would be available at the emergency units.

Due to the three weeks long strike at the government hospitals, the difficulties of general public have increased manifold as over 90 per cent of the population, including from the remote areas, visit the state facilities in a hope to get free treatment as well as medicines. Long queues of common people, including those who come all the way from interior of the province, were witnessed in the both government hospitals in the provincial capitals. Majority of them returned home in disappointment after spending hours in a hope that doctors would attend them.

On the other hand, the emergency cases and ordinary operations are being conducted in different shifts in the private hospitals in the city as burden on the already under burdened doctors has increased manifold due to the strike.