Public hospitals across Sindh remained closed on Wednesday as doctors went on strike and demanded an increase in their pay and allowances.
The protesting doctors said they want the Sindh government to issue a notification for the pay raises or else they will continue their strike.
In Karachi, no doctor was available to see the scores of patients queued up outside Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s outpatient department.
They were all either protesting an increase in their salaries or too busy enjoying a halwa puri breakfast at the hospital’s canteen. Meanwhile, patients kept waiting and repeatedly requesting treatment.
“There are people with cancer and brain tumors here just waiting. We come from so far,” said a woman fuming with rage at the non-availability of a doctor at Jinnah hospital.
Another man said people are worried and had been waiting all morning. “I am tired of waiting. I don’t know what to do now,” one patient told SAMAA TV.
Two women, who were from Punjab, said they were told by doctors to come see them after their strike was over. “What am I supposed to do till then? How long do I wait?” asked one. Another woman said doctors should not be playing with people’s lives like this.
A patient arrived at Jinnah hospital in an ambulance while another came in public transport, but they all kept waiting for doctors to see them. Worried patients could be seen roaming the empty corridors of the hospital, desperately searching for a doctor willing to see them.
But operation theatres and outpatient departments remained locked. Around 500 operations scheduled for today (Wednesday) were also cancelled.
The doctors had demanded that their salaries be matched with those of doctors working in government hospitals in Punjab. They had called off their strike after the government assured them that their demands would be met but no official notification has been issued yet.
In the Hippocratic oath taken by doctors, they pledge to treat the ill to the best of their ability, to preserve a patient’s privacy, to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation, and so on. It is an ages-old oath written by Hippocrates and is held sacred by physicians. But Sindh’s doctors seem to have forgotten this oath.