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The YDA strike and the doctor’s debate


As you may know, the Young Doctor’s Association in Punjab has been on a strike for the last few months.  Several hundreds of young doctors have handed in their resignations after failure of the governement to listen to our pleas to raise the salaries of young doctors to a decent figure.  In the past few weeks, the shortage of doctors has led to reports of unmanned emergencies, and the media is having a field day reporting the number of deaths supposedly directly caused by the YDA strike.

Everyone close to me is pretty much sick of me debating on this topic by now.  Ever since I realised that the public opinion ranged from insensitive to the plight of young doctors, to downright against it, I have been upset and angry on the part of my profession.  By now the number of discussions must have added at least another ten white hairs to my head.

What I want to do here is just post the two blogs that have addressed this issue, and some of the more notable comments by supporters of the strike, that i think illustrate our point of view very well.

The first was Maria Amir’s post, which tried to be neutral but actually slid in quite a few nasty pokes at the YDA.  When this was posted, the emergencies of hospitals were still being manned, and feelings had not run so high:

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/5065/are-doctors-there-for-patients-or-money/

The second was a defensive blog post by a medical student, Ahmad Malik.  I personally think the title and his tone of words kind of botched up the cause – kudos to him for writing the article, but adding drivers to it was a bit much and it practically caused an outflow of comments targeted at the insensitivity of doctors:

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/5221/doctors-have-to-eat-too/

Some of the comments I want to add here:

==============

Talha Ayub bin Ayub Apr 4, 2011 – 6:05PM

(edited)

But these are facts. And I will try to shape a fact-file as a rejoinder:

1. Average working hours of govt servants, in one month(26 working days; excluding Sundays): 156 hrs (6 hrs duty); for those working in private setups/banks etc: 208 hrs (8 hrs duty)
Doctors in surgery work 360-444 hrs(including duties on Sundays & gazetted holidays; duty hours differ from hospital to hospital, hence a range). Doctors working in medicine work 240-316hrs a month! (remember, there are only 720 hours in 1 month.

2. Doctors are the primary ‘source’ of blood donations in most hospitals! And in provinces like KPK, where Pashtuns do not donate blood, the only source!

3. A house-officer(a newly graduated doctor) is paid 12 thousand(K) in KPK; 16K in Sindh; & 18K in Punjab. A Medical Officer(M.O)/Postgraduate Resident trainee(P.G.R) get 22K for the 5 or more years of their training. Whereas, Judiciary, Police & Army personnel are getting thrice as much for substantially less work-done.

4. Doctors do not enjoy any special benefits in spite of working more than the above professionals. 5. What’s to praise CM for his stance on our issue? He manages the health ministry & he couldn’t see doctors protesting for more than a month? Where were all the professors, assistant & associate professors when the emergency dept was shut? (young doctors like myself resigned. We didn’t stay in the job, get paid & refuse work!)

6. The essence of ”essential services” is a doctor. And he is no ones’ slave. Media or govt! Did the media ever revere doctors as so-called ‘messiahs’ before this ”murderous” YDA movement? Last I checked on the news, a reporter was passing yet another judgement on a doctor! Pronouncing the doctors’ actions, as ‘negligence’ & declaring them as murderers once again! Have any of you media ‘gods’ & gurus ever given ‘one tacit allowance’ to the fact that drugs causing patient deaths could also be rare fatal side effects that many essential drugs carry with them & that they can’t be predicted!
At least now we know for sure (courtesy the protests) that doctors help (can) save lives!

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S.H. Apr 4, 2011 – 11:17PM

get your facts straight. These protests had been going on for a long time, and we had been getting absolutely no support from the public. All we get is badmouthing, always, from the media and the people, whether its negligency cases or strike protests. When the last article was written, at that time the emergency wards were still being run, people hadn’t died, and yet did you see how much support we got? We still had a majority of people who wanted to insist that we work for practically nothing. We still have such enlightened people as you insisting that you don’t care whther we starve or not. How nice. This is the kind of support your ‘soti hui qaum’ has given us and this is the kind of support that has left the YDA with no choice but to resort to desperate measures.

If people dying means anything to you, criticise your government and make them meet our (perfectly justified) demands instead of throwing all the blame on us.

Waisay I still do not support the abandoning of emergency services.

But I also seriously doubt the figures the media is throwing out. How many of those emergency cases that died were going to do so whther they received medical attention or not? What about the reports of senior doctors who haven’t left their posts? If those are true, then patients should be receiving medical attention. YDA stands for ‘young’ doctor association, as far as I know, not the whole doctor population.

Stop the hating. I am a human being, I reserve the right to freedom of speech and I reserve the right to resign to a job that isn’t paying me what I need. Stop hating on us for doing what you keep declaring is a fundamental right.

S.H.   Apr 4, 2011 – 11:29PM

  • How many of you have written about how badly doctors get treated in Pakistan? How many of those of you who are so quick to talk about negligency and point the finger at doctors that are ‘only after fees’ have seen the kind of things we face daily from our delightful public in our state-of-the-art govt. hospitals? And I dont mean natural sufffering either. Doctors have been beat up, medical personnel have been physically abused after the death of a patient that was in the natural course of things. Angry relatives tear apart hospitals, my friends working in govt hospitals have seen nurses get their hair pulled and male doctors actually beaten up. Doctors get death threats, accusations even when inevitable deaths happen, they face physical and verbal harassment, women doctors have to deal with all kinds of perverts day in day out, , and yet we grit our teeth and bear all that. Why not talk about those things for a change?

    How many of you honestly knew about the situation of young doctors and their sufferings, and supported the YDA from the start? Not enough, evidently.

=================

Ahmad Malik 13 hours ago

People, you’re missing the point.
The doctors aren’t killing people.
They are simply telling the government “All right, we have had enough. Your health sector, now you run it. Here are our resignations”

So now, you’re just as much responsible for the deaths as them. The difference is you’re still making an awful lot while they’re jobless.
The government has failed to attract the doctors to the public sector. Now every death is on the hands of the government which does not want to spend any more money on the public’s health. The doctors have much better options. They have compromised in the name of humanity for so long but this breaking point had to come.

==========

A doctor’s sibling 18 hours ago

(edited)

I JUST cannot seem to understand the negativity and hatred spouted in these comments towards the young doctors.

Come on people…. Are they our slaves???

As an elder sibling of a doctor, I saw my younger bro being PUSHED to the limits. As a house job officer at DMC, he was NOT payed regularly. When I used to confront him over it, he’d tell me ‘we only get paid if something gets left over…’ In the meanwhile, he and his other mates were being used as free skilled slaves salvaging and saving human lives day in and day out with little regard to any return on their ‘investment’.. That is how much DEDICATED and deeply in love with humanity he and his mates were/are. During this time, the Swine Flu outbreak occurred, and keeping in mind the APPALLING conditions at Civil, he still went. Are you still trying to tell me that he effing.didn’t.love.humanity?? (using Ms.Ghausia’s style of getting a point across) and yes, it was during this very time that ONE OF THEIR MATES DIED AFTER CONTRACTING SWINE FLU. Yes, he.bleep.died! .. in the name of humanity and serving the people…

And then people STILL have the gall to come out and disapprove of their actions…
Come on.. tell me honestly, what has ANY SINGLE one of you done to help the Young doctor’s collectively???

Tell me .. for a Young doctor who is married and has a family of his own, whose going to pay the bills? whose going to pay the tuition for his/her children? if you are expecting him to be an angel and try pulling things off on a meager 18K a month.., then you SERIOUSLY need to open your eyes and look around. Have ANY OF YOU LOT done anything for them? Have anyone of YOU considered contributing a small portion of your 30K plus salaries to them? Now THAT would have been a HUMANE thing to do.. but no, why should you? you earned it.. didn’t you? You DESERVED it ..didn’t you? then tell me why the fu** doesn’t a young doctor deserve it as well???

===============

Rayyan 18 hours ago

(edited)

Second lie is that no where in the world you find an example of doctors going on strike. doctors have been on strikes in South and North america,in India and in israel but their government was sensible enough to listen to them at once.

================

Mehr Salman 9 hours ago

The above article accurately sums up the doctors’ plight and for everyone who is ignorant of our situation and chooses to turn a blind eye to the circumstances that have pushed us to take such a drastic measure, WAKE UP AND LISTEN TO US FOR GOD’S SAKE!

I’m a doctor and I’ve recently done my house job in Medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. The experience left me disillusioned and disappointed in my career. Doctors are underpaid, disrespected and unappreciated. We have to work long hours at a tough and exhausting job, in an unsafe and hostile environment where we are offered no protection. I myself have been physically attacked by a patient’s attendant who did not hesitate to hit and threaten a defenseless young girl. I’ve seen my colleagues and seniors stretched to the breaking point from the physical and mental strain of working three or four jobs in different hospitals just to make ends meet; for a young medical officer and PG trainee it’s impossible to support his family on a month’s salary for even a week. Our demands have only been noticed now that doctors have decided to stop working in E.R. No one paid attention when we asked for security and pay raises; we held peaceful demonstrations for over two years. Strikes of progressively longer durations were held in Outdoor departments of hospitals over the past year as a warning but our demands were stubbornly ignored. It was our morality, empathy and compassion for the patients because of which we did not take this drastic measure before. It grieves us just as much to have our purpose in life stripped away from us and to see patients suffering. In the wake of the latest D.G.Khan blast, YDA called off the strike in that area so that medical care may be provided to the injured. People must realize that their elected representatives in the Government are responsible for providing public health care. I urge the media and the general population to see our side of the story and help us get back to our jobs as soon as possible. Help us so we may help you!

===

Maddoc 21 hours ago

Excellent portrayal.
I am not even going to grace the people who have the audacity to judge us without ever being in our shoes with an acknowledgment.
I have worked 22 months without salary and my father supported me in the mean time.
We don’t get the luxury, NOR the time to moonlight and do work at other places, ‘private practices’ as one of the comments stated.
Work for 350hours/month then I’ll ask you if you have the ability or desire, or even time to find another job, which maybe just as grueling, to earn as much as … yes, a Daewoo driver.
You guys think its a joke for us to get out on the streets and protest?
You think we don’t care?
I say, for a nation of such ingrates, we should have done that a long time ago.
The working conditions, the salary, the transportation, the hours, the food, the hostels…
Khudaya.
I think I am tired of this constant diatribe against us that we are this, that, greedy. We have been called liars.
We have been repeatedly told of our oaths.
Well, if you were that concerned about that, you should have seen signs of trouble when we came out on the streets on 1st of March and shouldn’t have waited for week 7 to start. For that matter, you’re still not with us. Not one of you has said that hey, doc, go work. I’ll fight your fight!
NOT ONE OF YOU SAID, GOVT ‘MIGHT’ BE WRONG.
Not one of you sad, hey, politicians are such liars. Maybe, just maybe, these kids are telling the truth. Maybe they do need some help. Maybe they do need to be taken care of without them begging for it for EIGHTEEN MONTHS.
Oh, no. That would remove you from your plush living room chairs and cushy couches and out in the sun.
We have toiled like you have never toiled and never would!
We did it all for Allah.
Only Allah knows what we are going through and what we have risked just to be decently paid.
But now, as Ahmad said, our breaking point has come.
You want our services, earn them!
Hire us.
Otherwise, I am no more interested in helping out the ingrates who spit on me, pull at my clothes, curse me, hit me and then have the audacity to tell me that I took an oath to face all this.
I am done!
Congratulations on your apathy!
At least you lost one doc who really came in the profession to help the needy and the poor.
You guys rock!

=====

And so on and so forth.  I’m sorry for this being such a ranting post.  But this issue has hit close to my heart.  As I have said above, I do not support the shutting down of emergency services.  But I am seriously grieved at the lack of support the YDA received in the beginning, and now the utter onslaught of hate that they are receiving now that patients have died due to the strike.  It has made me seriously reconsider staying in this country, which obviously does not know how to value its professionals.

And that is all I have to say really.  The links are interesting, if you have time, go through them.  And I promise the next post won’t be as ranting 😛

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22 thoughts on “The YDA strike and the doctor’s debate

  1. Well they stopped me from reaching to work on time so atleast they are at fault there …

    Otherwise I believe its about time someone start giving them the due credit they deserve. The biggest setback is that we as a nation always love to create stereotypes and then complain about it. Most of the masses will hear or see something on TV or read something in newspaper or by chance had a bad experience with a certain doctor they would tarnish their image for the whole fraternity for life. Thats where the problem starts. Now when the people who are striving through their lives ignoring their family life and their own life for a cause as big as saving a life, they deserve to be paid good salaries at least. Government and People cannot pay them back for what they actually do to be honest. This is just a compensation for what we can’t give them. The crazy hours they put themselves through with dedication is just amazingly inspiring. My elder cousin is a doctor and a pretty senior surgeon at that. he is now 45 years old. He was working in Mayo Hospital lahore in the general surgery department and was working as a registrar there and then he shifted jobs to Sir Ganga Raam Hospital (my birth place …irrelevant information ) and you know after 21 years of service day in day out his monthly salary was 34,534. I earned more than him and i am about 20 years younger than him and that too against working only in daytime for 9 hours and probably giving a productivity of six hours. That explains it for me. I am just sad. I sometimes feel we do not need media to begin with because so far i have not seen any positive things from it to be really honest. People may believe that there are reasons to like them and that depends on their understanding of the situation or the actions of the media, but i want the whole media in the world to drop dead lol…. just vanish from our lives …because most of them just create anarchy in our lives and do not let us have a moment of peace. News are twisted and turned to make them more saucy. They pick their own good and bad sides and make people believe in them. They are brainwashing who ever they want. I am sure there are honest people in there as well who truly want to work for the betterment of the society and I hail them for it but …………ok now my head spins … and thats how we avoid thinking anymore on the topics at hand and continue to live our lives…………do I make any sense here ?

    1. I had a lecture by mufti Kamaluddin Ahmed today, and he was talking about how the media has such a bias against so many things and how cruelly it can twist things and show you only one side of the picture, like about how Islam is sexist and all…I could see he was visibly angry at the media for doing things like that, and currently after all this strike and ‘demonising of doctors’, I totally understand what he meant.

      I am so glad you understand, but see, you had a doctor in your family as an example, people who havent experienced at first hand a relative in such a position just don’t understand what we go through. =/ thank you for your supportive comment 🙂

  2. The Punjab government’s mishandling of the strike by young doctors is threatening to bring the entire country’s health system to a halt. The doctors’ strike that started from Mayo Hospital in Lahore to demand better remuneration commensurate with their qualification and experience spread to the rest of Punjab. After the failure of the Punjab government’s belated negotiations with the Young Doctors Association (YDA), doctors in Sindh and Balochistan have also indicated they would go on a strike in solidarity with their colleagues in Punjab and to demand a uniform pay package for doctors across the country. It is only a matter of time before doctors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa make a similar decision. If the Punjab government thinks that by demonizing protesting doctors as playing with the lives of people, dismissing them from service and replacing them with new recruits it can solve this issue, it is grossly mistaken.

    1. Aye, you’re right there. Matters are only going to get worse if this situation is not wrapped up by the government properly. Already doctors in Karachi have called for a strike. Things are going to get nasty. This is the time a sensible government would step in, make the proper negotiations as fast as possible and return the situation to normal. But humari government tou…

  3. Strike is fine, and the initial demand for increasing the salary from 15k is also fine. I support them on this. But what haunts me is the death of over 30 people because of the ongoing strike.

    I agree that it is impossible for (young) doctors to survive in 15k, but the thing is, this is Pakistan. Even a BBA graduate or an Engineer starts from basically the same income level. Accountants ka toh pucho bhi nahi, we are paid Rs. 1500/month during articleship, which might go upto Rs 2500, depending on how much uthaofying you do for the boss.

    Also, another issue that I found out about this whole ongoing debacle is that they have raised there initial demand of 30k (which was met by the govt) to 90k. I mean seriously?

    1. Ahsan bhai, you’re mistaken, they did not increase the demand for junior doctors from 30k to 90k, the current demand is still 30k, what happened was the if juniors are earning about 30 and 50k respective to their posts, this equals the salaries of more senior doctors, and when the govt agreed to the demands, the senior doctors basically stepped in and said, hey, what about us? And so the demand for 90k or roundabout that figure is for the senior doctors, not junior.

      Actually asal masla senior doctors hee kar rahay hain. It was when they joined the protests that the emergencies had to be closed down, and it was due to them that we had to back out when the govt accepted our demands to raise the salaries of oyunger doctors. But I guess un ka point bhi sahee hai. But its an achi khichri now, and ppl continue to die.

      1. Thanks, i didnt knew about that senior doctor issue. You know, no offense to any senior doctors, but they are being douchebags. I whole heartedly agree with the junior doctors plight, but these seniors are trying to cash in on the current ongoing strike. Its a known fact that most of these senior govt doctors spend more time in their private practices without even caring about their actual work. I dont think they deserve this level of compensation until or unless there is an effective way to monitor and control their work so as to make sure that they are actually working instead of running private practices.

        1. well couple of other doctors in my family have government jobs but do not go to those. They run their own hospital and clinics and also get the salary for the govt job. Pretty senior docs. lol Ajeeb duniya hai bhaiya

    1. well, debates tend to bring out the bitch in me. And this was a debate close to my heart. Plus you weren’t exactly nice, you told us to starve 😦 how would you like it if I starved?

  4. I didn’t say you should starve, I said you deserved to starve if you were going to be so callous about people dying, and you just went and snarked at me without even knowing anything about my whole opinion on the matter. I mean from some random blogger I’d expect this but since we’re friends, I didn’t think you’d just make your assumptions without talking to me properly about it! *runs off sobbing* This is worst than finding out that Bilal’s girlfriend said she wasn’t worried about me crushing on him cause after meeting me she could see she was prettier!

    1. I have no idea who Bilal is, but damn that girlfriend sounds like a bitch o_O and i promise not to be snarky next time without finding out your whole complete documented and signed perspective on the issue *rolls eyes* 😛 are we cool now?

      1. Sniffle. Its true, she did say that. And I also learned that she only liked me cause I told her she was pretty and really smart. Sniffle. Heeey! You rolled your eyes! That means you’re not being sincere! BOOHOO! *runs away sobbing*

  5. I have nothing against the YDA, and on the whole I’d be all for the strike except there are two things that tick me off about:
    1. Unmanned emergencies.
    2. Preventing other doctors NOT a part of the YDA from working in those emergencies. Unions take on mafia-like characteristics pretty quickly and at any rate, if someone is not a part of your Association, why are you forcing him/her to obey you anyway? Young doctors are refuse to work because they are grossly underpaid, fine. So let those well-paid senior doctors earn all that extra cash by covering those duties too. At the risk of repeating myself: If the YDA thinks the govt actually cares if people die, especially the poor people you find in govt hospitals, then it has another thing coming. But once those senior doctors, who have far more political clout as a group, find themselves overworked (or maybe overwhelmed by guilt) I have a feeling things will proceed much faster.

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