off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid



Eventual outcome
of indifferent attitude


Any organization, institution and country which fails to retain the interest of its employees, faculty or citizens leads to an indifferent attitude on their part which is a sure prescription for disaster. It is just like slow poisoning and eventually one reaches a stage where not much can be done and the fate is well known. Hence, it is extremely important for those running and managing, governing these organizations, institutions and countries to listen to those whom they represent, respect their wishes and refrain from pushing them to the wall which is in fact counter- productive.

I remember once the Sindh PMA hosted a dinner reception for the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah at the Sindh Club at Karachi. During the conversation Prof. Ali Mohammad Ansari a noted orthopedic surgeon who also served as Sindh Health Secretary who was the then President of Sindh PMA complained to the Chief Justice of the wrong policies of the government in health sector and particularly its attitude when dealing with the members of the medical profession. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah listened to him patiently and then remarked, medical profession should try to find an answer and once they are able to make correct diagnosis, treatment will not be difficult. He then went on to say that look at the lawyers community. No Government or institution including the Supreme Court of Pakistan can afford to ignore their elected body i.e. Supreme Court Bar Association. The reason being that SCBA has a representative character. It has a democratic set up, hold free and fair elections in a transparent manner of the SCBA regularly. Thus it has established its credibility. The day medical profession achieves unity amongst it ranks, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) emerges as a strong representative body of the medical profession and also earns credibility, no government will be able to undertake any initiative and development works in the health sector without consulting them and having their input.

Unfortunately over the years what has happened, till East Pakistan was with us, PMA(C) had a democratic set up, representative character and used to hold its elections regularly. After the tragic events of 1971, the PMA also lost its image and credibility. Doctors were no more welcome to become its members and a particular group tried to run its affairs in a dictatorial manner. It could not go on like that for long and eventually the General Body Meeting held at Peshawar Club in 1976 which went on the whole night and ended early in the morning the next day, split the medical profession and the PMA in two distinct groups. Addressing the GB meeting late Dr. Muhammad Ilyas a noted cardiologist from Peshawar had remarked that “Today is the D Day for the PMA” and that is exactly what happened. Since then though efforts were made and the PMA center was revived but it offers no charm for the members of the medical profession. Neither the vast majority of the doctors in the country nor the government bothers about it. Now everyone has developed an indifferent attitude towards PMA while the different specialty and even sub-specialty organizations have emerged much stronger. At the end of the day it is the medical profession which has suffered and continues to suffer.

We have neither efficient primary health care, nor we have been able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) and there is no possibility that we will even achieve the Sustainable Millennium Development Goals (SMDGs) set by the WHO. We have extremely high maternal and infant, child mortality. We have failed to control communicable diseases while Non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are spreading like an epidemic. We have failed to maintain standards of teaching and training in our medical institutions. We have seen mushroom growth of new medical and dental colleges coming up in the private sector. The profession has also lost control of the regulatory body i.e. Pakistan Medical & Dental Council because of incompetent, intellectually corrupt leadership it elected. Since it failed to introduce the concept of self-monitoring and accountability of its members, now someone else is doing all that. Hence, it is the medical profession which has to blame itself for all that as they asked for it. As usual medical profession has refused to learn any lesson from their mistakes, hence will continue to suffer in the days to come till they wake up from the deep slumber.

There is also a message for other organizations, institutions not to push people to the wall, listen to them, respect their wishes and give respect to their vote. Let democracy flourish, engineered elections, selected leadership won’t be able to surmount the crisis we are facing. However, if the wish of the people is respected, they are listened to, they will be prepared to swallow any bitter pill so that we are able to move forward on the road to progress and development. Undiluted and pure democracy is the only option if we wish to survive with respect and dignity among the comity of Nations.

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