Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Pakistani physicians live in fear after spike in deadly attacks

As the killing of Shiite medics spikes in Karachi, clinics have closed, straining the system and forcing medical staff to flee the country for their own safety

By Syed Raza Hassan  /  Reuters, KARACHI

IMPORTING DOCTORS?

The situation could become acute within 10 years, association general secretary Mirza Ali Azhar said.

“Pakistan may have to import doctors,” he said.

In one recent case, Azhar said a doctor was working in the operating theater when he received a call telling him that he would be killed as he left the hospital.

The physician fled to the airport in an ambulance, met his family there and they left Pakistan on the first flight.

Patients of medics who are killed or forced to flee can go elsewhere, but finding the right care in Pakistan is not easy.

The healthcare system relies heavily on private clinics and hospitals, which many cannot afford, and charitable services, while state spending on the sector is low.

“I found out Raza had been shot when I read it in the newspaper,” said one of the doctor’s regular patients, who declined to be named for security reasons. “I went to several doctors over the last five months, but did not find anyone I was happy with. Now I am visiting a doctor at a consulting clinic at a big hospital.”

Association president Idrees Adhi is among those who have been threatened. His family wants him to leave Pakistan.

“After years of struggle, I am being forced to leave this country,” the ophthalmologist said. “It will be a very painful decision, but I am seriously considering it.”

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