KARACHI - A complete strike was observed in National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and all major departments remained close against the provincial government’s plan to privatize the public hospitals and give them autonomous status.
The strike was observed on call of Sindh Health Employees Joint Action Committee and the employees completely boycotted the OPDs service, admin, account section, pharmacy, OT services and laboratories services at NICH. However, emergency department and neonatal ICU of hospitals remain functional during protest.
The protesters blocked the Rafiqui Shaheed Road and staged sit-in which caused massive traffic jams on the roads leading to three major hospitals like Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and National Institute of Child Health.
The protesters were carrying placards and banners inscribed with different slogans like; “Plan of public hospitals privatization not acceptable” and “Stop giving autonomous status to major hospitals”.
A heavy contingent of law enforcement agencies rushed on the spot and asked protesters to open the road for traffic, but on their refusal, the police resorted to baton charge and forcefully dispersed the employees. The police later restored the traffic heading towards the hospital.
Special Secretary Public Health, Sindh - Dr Khalid Sheikh also rushed to the NICH and held a meeting with the protesting employees. He assured the employees that only non-functional public hospitals would be privatized and the provincial government has no plans to privatize the major hospitals.
The protesters called off their protest demonstration and sit-in for two days, after an assurance given by the special secretary. The Employees Joint Action Committee representatives also met the Secretary Health, Sindh.
A member of Sindh Health Employees Joint Action Committee - Chaudhry Faisal said; The police allegedly resorted to baton charge on peaceful protesting employees, but none of the protesting staff was injured in the incident. He said joint committee members presented a charter of demands to the secretary health on 29 December during a meeting.
Executive Director, NICH, Prof Jamal Raza said; All the matters have been resolved and employees have resumed their duties.
Meanwhile, about a dozen routine surgeries were put off at National Institute for Child Health (NICH), owing to the strike by nurses and paramedical staff.