From the pen ( oops keypad ) of a young doc. Being reproduced originally
As the young doctors’ strike in Punjab continues in its second month, the longest ever in memory and the first one in history (as per credible sources) to shut down the emergencies completely, putting the death toll up as 10 documented cases till the last update and with thousands of patients denied access not only to the emergency, but also outdoor services and indoor services including diagnostic procedures and operations.
Doctors have been labeled as being insensitive and without a conscience. Of being a silent spectator to the agony of thousands of patients while keeping their mercenary interests at heart. This is how the picture would look from outside.
While the closure of emergencies is debatable and not personally endorsed, like many other things in our society at present that we are witness to in recent times, this also has a two-dimensional view, like two sides of a coin. To anyone cognizant of the problems plaguing our health sector, would know that this was a volcano waiting to erupt. This is the manifestation of the deprivation and anger experienced by the healers of a nation that have been denied their access to a decent living despite being the cream of the nation in terms of academics and toiling for long hours with no respite. Being overworked and underpaid is a combination that does not bear well with graduates who have invested a considerable amount of labour and their family’s money to earn this degree. Parents who send their children to medical schools thinking they will get a payback on their investment as soon as their child earns the coveted title of a ‘doctor’. In face of rising competition on both public and private fronts, their dream is hardly, if ever realized.
The ultimate culprit is of course our infrastructure which has a meager health budget and in that the key deliverers of healthcare are given very low priority. So much so that they have to work unpaid, sometimes for years. The ultimate aim of every doctor aspiring to be wealthy is practicing in private, but that includes years of rigorous training before they are able to qualify. This and the absence of job security with the Government reluctant to fill permanent posts compounds the problem. This has led to a massive brain drain of doctors choosing instead to serve in more lucrative posts in the West and Middle East. So have been things for a while.
What is different this time is that with a free media and democracy, our nation is much more vocal and unafraid to voice their demands. And the winds of change have swept the health sector too. These young practitioners are much more daring and outgoing than their predecessors in raising their voices to the injustices committed to their community. They know their worth, though the Government has been slow in realizing it and they have successfully demonstrated it. These are not the doctors of yore who were content with what little was being thrown their way and ultimately seeking their livelihood abroad as consultant posts even after post graduation are few and far between. They on a large scale represent the Pakistan of today, the youth who want their right and they want it NOW. They are not scared of the repercussions primarily because they have nothing to lose.
If successful, their case would be cited as an example where a deprived lot fighting for their due recognition has brought the system down to its knees.