Doctor, heal thyself
While the leadership of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) has withdrawn the five day old strike after the intervention of the SC, the closure of the OPDs on the second day running in all teaching hospitals of Lahore has left bitter memories and raised vital questions.
One doubts if the doctors who forcibly locked the OPDs had ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath. The oath is historically taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals to practice medicine ethically. It requires among other things never to do harm to a patient. On Thursday, treatment was denied to the patients at indoor departments also. Some of the doctors armed themselves with clubs and iron rods and roughed up anxious relatives begging them to save the patients, in cases children, brought from far-off towns. In PIC, colleagues willing to treat serious emergency cases or conduct crucial operations were forced to leave. This is a reflection on the teaching system that churns out doctors by the thousands every year but with many having little sense of the moral obligations of a healer. This was bound to happen in a system where many topmost doctors running teaching hospitals work till late hours doing lucrative private practice or spend time courting bureaucrats, and thus can pay little attention to the health of the system.
What has happened is also a reflection on the quality of the governance in Punjab. That the Punjab government finally decided to withdraw the cases against senior PIC doctors, which caused the strike, possibly leads to two equally painful conclusions. First, that the cases were weak and the PIC doctors were framed to relieve the political pressure on the chief minister who was accused of neglecting his duties as health minister. Second, the cases were genuine but withdrawn under mounting pressure from the doctors. In the second case, the CM has shown a highly dangerous direction to organised groups to get their illegitimate demands accepted.