The Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, members are at it again beating up anyone in the way of their unending demands for better service structure and letting patients die unattended. Emboldened by their previous unsavoury deeds, members of YDA's Gujranwala chapter turned on their own seniors on Wednesday.
The YDA district president and his associates entered the office of DHQ Hospital's medical superintendent and assaulted him. When other senior doctors tried to intervene to save their colleague they were also attacked. Even journalists covering the incident were not spared. Soon afterwards in Lahore, YDA Punjab announced a strike withdrawing first from outpatients departments and later from indoor wards. Claiming that the Gujranwala incident was a service matter, they said the strike would continue till the suspension of the provincial health secretary.
The callous disregard displayed by these doctors for human life is shocking. Anyone with an iota of humanity would want to help another in trouble, taking them to the nearest medical facility. Doctors have a professional commitment to take care of the sick and the dying. The YDA members should have fresh in their memory the Hippocratic Oath they took upon entering the profession vowing that "into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or corruption." Yet they have been voluntarily resorting to mischief every now and then for over three years. Last summer, they stayed on strike for 17 days at a stretch, letting patients suffer or die unattended. An exasperated government gave in to their demands. Yet they keep finding new excuses to refuse to do duty, resort to violence and act like violent trade unionists rather than doctors committed to serve ailing humanity no matter what the conditions might be.
Understandably, senior doctors in the Pakistan Medical Association are outraged at the Gujranwala incident and want the Punjab government to rub the culprits with an iron hand. But given the nature of the problem, especially the strike weapon the unruly YDA has been using on the slightest pretext, the government alone cannot impose an effective discipline. Part of the blame for his unsavoury situation belongs to the political parties. It may be recalled that when the young doctors last went on strike, different political parties, including the PPP and the Q League offered them support just because the YDA was giving a tough time to the PML-N government. They ignored the fact that the strike may have created an administrative problem for the provincial government but those suffering were ordinary people from all walks of society. Hopefully, this time would be different, and instead of playing politics over a life and death issue to spite the PML-N government, they would support its efforts to discipline the out-of-control medical practitioners instilling ethical responsibility in their minds. This recurring nuisance must be eliminated once and for all.