JPMC shuts in protest against doctor’s killing

Scores of patients who managed to reach the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) and the Civil Hospital Karachi despite a strike observed by owners of public transport and CNG stations were made to suffer as a number of services were not offered at the hospitals in protest against the killing of a senior JPMC doctor.

Dr Saleem Kharal, head of the Pathology Department of the JPCM, was gunned down in his car by unidentified assailants at Submarine Chowrangi on Friday night.

Kharal’s was the third murder of a doctor in the country and the second in Karachi in December. Police surgeon Dr Baqir Shah was killed in Quetta a couple of days back while Dr Mehboob, a dermatologist, was killed in Karachi last week.

The JPMC administration, fellow doctors and associations of health professionals strongly protested over the killing of Dr Kharal. All the elective services, including out-patient departments (OPDs), remained closed on Saturday. All elective surgical procedures in operation theaters of different JPMC wards, medical examination facilities ,including ultrasound and X-ray, were not available to patients, who had come to the JPMC from different areas of the city.

Patients had to suffer a great deal in reaching the hospital due to a public transport strike and the closure of CNG stations. Their suffering was to go in vain, when they were told that health services were not being offered due to a boycott over the murder of a colleague.

Visiting patients said the announcement of the boycott of healthcare services was made late at night, and they did not know about it until they reached the hospital.

Amna Bibi, a mother of three who had brought her children to the Orthopedic Ward of the hospital for a routine check-up of his arm, said she had to pay an exorbitant fare to reach the JPMC, but to no avail, as all the doctors were on strike.

“I am also saddened by the killing of a doctor; however doctors should also be aware of the miseries of their poor patients, who cannot afford to visit private hospitals. Now I have to come again on Monday to get my son examined,” she added.

The JPMC administration, however, made it clear that emergency services remained functional at the JPMC as patients who were not brought in need of immediate medical assistance were provided with first aid while emergency operation theaters also remained active.

The doctors and the administration of the JPMC have summoned a general body meeting of the entire staff of the hospital on Monday morning at the Najmuddin auditorium to discuss the assassination of Dr Kharal and decide the future course of action.

Most of the elective services at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) also remained closed to patients. Dr Kharal’s wife, Dr Yasmi Kharal, is the administrative officer at the operation theater complex of the hospital.

Doctors at the CHK condemned the death and boycotted most of the healthcare facilities, including OPDs and operation theaters, and demanded the authorities to protect the doctors’ fraternity.

There were also reports of an unannounced boycott of services at some other public service hospitals, including the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD).

A representative body of the Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Sindh announced a three-day mourning in protest against the killing of Dr Kharal.

A spokesman for the YDA Sindh said doctors would show their support for the cause by wearing black armbands and holding protest meetings at their respective institutions to condemn the killing of the senior doctor. They demanded the provision of protection for health professionals. the news

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