A Strike for Doctor’s Rights or Costing More Human Lives?

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It was a dimly lit corridor. Dirtied with empty food boxes and fallen hopes. Pigeons fluttering on the window sills, pecking on every decaying nibble they could find. The paint on the walls was rather the blood of the hospital’s year-end trail of patients. The flakes from the wall were falling off of them with no one to patch them up. Like the wounds on the arms and legs of patients waiting outside the medical wards.

It was a grave, odd world. A government hospital. A couple sitting on a sheet of cloth, with their child shivering and crying in the lap of his mother. Benches crawling with insects and the patients who could barely hold themselves. Whether someone sneezed, coughed or lost bladder control, he could only sit and wait.

Wait with the chimes of the wall-clock, the tick of the hour, for somebody to see them.  

When it comes to the healthcare sector of Pakistan, we often neglect how one action can impact the lives of thousands. We might be able to understand the demands laid forward by the Young Doctor’s Association (YDA) to the government of Pakistan, but what about the lives of patients who are being neglected? YDA strike has left hundreds of patients distraught over the provision and availability of healthcare services. The medical wards are largely empty with no doctor to tend to any patient.

Government hospitals have thousands of visitors from the suburban parts of the city and the neighboring rural areas because they cannot afford medical care. While it is the right of each patient to get free hospital care from government hospitals, such strikes and upheavals make it almost impossible to deliver on the oath the doctors swore when they graduated.

Hundreds and thousands of people lose their lives each day because of negligent practice and lack of access to alternative facilities in situations like these. We understand that after a certain point, the service to humanity is to be complemented with a business mind aimed at sustainability, but shouldn’t the healthcare industry be FIRST focused on creating value for the people they serve? If they shut their doors on their faces and refuse them help, how can this industry be called progressive?

It is not the fault of one, but the whole system. If the government deems it fit they can put an end to this pitiful situation TODAY but have they? No. Why? No one knows. Or rather, no one understands why.

Creating awareness amongst the people about the importance of healthcare has to be met halfway with equally available healthcare facilities. Only then can we achieve the desired results of catering to a larger population. You cannot motivate a person to get his stomach checked every time it hurts, for free, till you can ensure there is going to be a doctor available to see him. A single second can destroy a person’s life. Imagine the consequences of having the hospital closed for the complete month.

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Norin Chaudhry

The writer is a PhD in the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, at Iowa State University in the lab of Gustavo C. MacIntosh.

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