Pricing the Conscience

23 people have died in Punjab’s Hospitals so far while more remain to be prone to not getting the required treatment because doctors are on strike. Medical Practitioners in Punjab are demanding increase in their salaries in line with international standards. Young Doctors Association demands that doctors be paid a minimum salary of Rs. 90,000 per month + benefits. ‘Medical Doctor’ is a profession looked up upon with reverence and respect like no other profession perhaps because it promises to save human lives. But what these young doctors have displayed in the past few weeks cannot be categorized in any other terms than ‘Greed’. Greed has taken its toll on 23 innocent lives and thousands more fear the same fate as the conscience of these doctors seems a little week in its calling. YDA and its members today have proven that they are just like all so deplored corporate people whose main motivation is money. So if you are sick in Pakistan and your government is unable to pay the doctors lucrative salary packages; the message that the medical community is giving is, well then you might as well die. A country where ‘Millions’ live below the poverty line and are deprived of the most basic needs of survival, the doctor’s community has refused to provide its services to its dying clients. The country is shocked at the complacent attitude of these so called ‘saviors of life’ and their determination on cashing on the misery of the public. As these public servants refuse to work on low salary packages, the public remains to be a victim of this barbaric ‘tug of war’ between YDA and provincial government. The point to ponder for these doctors is whether or not they were aware of the low salary packages when they got into the medical school in the first place. Its common knowledge in the country that MBBS pass outs don’t earn as much as their counter parts in other professions, yet they chose to become doctors. This being their conscious and informed decision, it is incumbent upon them to take up the outcome of their decision in full zeal and own the responsibility of choosing this profession in the first place. If one feels uncomfortable in shouldering the responsibility that comes with nobility, then he ought not to volunteer. Losing precious lives in the process of demanding increase compensation from your employer is by no means be acceptable to any society and while the demands of doctors may or may not be justified the repercussions of these protests and strikes are most definitely condemnable by all that posses some level of conscience. Moreover ‘The Oath’ that Medical practitioners are required to take upon their inducement in the work force is also worth noting. Following is the excerpt of that Oath:

“At the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession: I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity The health of my patient will be my first consideration “ How much these so called saviors have lived up to this oath has also been highly controversial in the light of recent events. When they ‘solemnly pledged’ to dedicate their lives in the service of humanity were they not aware of the repercussions this might have? Has commercialization completely consumed all the conscience from within us and has crept into the souls of the most dignified people of our society? Under the heading of ‘Duties of Physicians in General’ in the “International Code of Medical Ethics” which is binding upon every physician in Pakistan it is stated: “A physician shall not permit motives of profit to influence the free and independent exercise of professional judgement on behalf of patients.” Let alone influence the free and independent exercise, motives of profit have influenced the exercise of even checking patients in the first place. If this is moral conduct of physicians in our country and their conscience remains to be unmoved in their stance; then I believe we in the corporate world are far better (usually condemned for not having human considerations) in our untiring pursuits of profits as we have never knowingly jeopardized lives of general public. A medical student pays only a fraction of the actual cost of his studies in all government medical universities and colleges. So for a person who has studies on tax payer’s account for the most part; is it not his duty to pay back in form of services to the community who has bared the burden of his education expense? Did this thought never crossed the minds of these YDA members that they have an obligation towards the general taxpaying public because it was they who has paid for the expense of their studies? The ethical conduct of Medical Doctors in recent days has become questionable and condemnable as their actions-- no matter how legitimate their demands maybe; have cost numerous and precious human lives. The duties and responsibilities bestowed upon doctors are great and so is the profession and its sanctity must not be jeopardized in blind pursuit of ends, as these ends might not be so treasured in the end, when they are stained with blood of innocent patients. The reverence that we have previously felt towards the medical community in the past must be preserved and members of this noble profession must once again recognize their greatness and embrace the valor that is left as legacy of the predecessors of this profession and perhaps free us from the melancholy that we have entered in with the thought of Greed winning over the human conscience and empathy.

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