Medical Warriors and COVID-19: Negligence of Authorities

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By: Syed Hassaan Naqvi & Uswah Islam Rahi.

In a time of traumatized situation doctors from across the world become soldiers to fight from the front lines. Pakistani medical staff is also playing role as a saviour of nation. It is estimated that there are 127,859 doctors and 12,804 health facilities (Source: Pakistan Medical and Dental Commission) in Pakistan for over 22 crore population which are certainly not enough for this immense population. After 18th amendment health became provincial concern to improve effectiveness. There are 3 basic sectors of health care in Pakistan which are district headquarters, Basic health units and rural health centers but still 70 percent population is treated under private health sector. Health budget has also increased during the last decade, but it is still inefficient when compared with the growing population.

It was a precise picture of health structure in Pakistan. After the perilous pandemic of coronavirus all the countries are giving tribute to their medical staff, police, army and all other related departments who are in line of duty, China gave tribute to their medical staff by placing displaying pictures on bill boards, people came to their balconies in India for the support of their frontline commandos while here in Pakistan police assaulted doctors who were protesting for not having personal protective equipment to fight coronavirus. Health department is not serious to own its workers and want them to work by force, the old tussle of doctors and health department is cultivating new issues and creating hurdles to fight coronavirus and it would be a common citizen who will bear the ultimate damage. There is no need to discuss previous issues of doctors association and health department, but here in this issue authority seems reprehensible for creating mess in this challenging time. Because authorities are not providing proper facilities to frontline staff who are more vulnerable in getting virus. Personal Protective Equipment shortage has been in the headlines ever since the coronavirus pendamis strucks early last month, authorities are still lagging in taking measures to tackle this serious issue.

Because of health department’s non serious approach, doctors association left with no other choice so the protest was called upon in Quetta when they were not getting PPEs to fight corona. Doctors demanded proper facilities, supplies of N-95 masks arranged by federal government for hospitals but these masks turned out to K-95 masks used in saloons and parlors instead of N-95. This poor management is risking lives of real heroes fighting against COVID-19.

While talking to Gulf News, Dr Salman Haseeb said that the situation in hospitals all over the country is not ideal for doctors to treat coronavirus patient. Due to the lack of PPE’s there are risks they might contract the virus from the patients they meet. He added not only Punjab is facing this but in KP three doctors have been isolated after coming in contact with coronavirus patients while in Sindh 10 doctors are quarantined, 2 died in Gilgit Baltistan and 1 veteran physician had breathed his last in Karachi due to the lack of proper safety gears.

In last week Pakistan received 4 Million dollars from China and equipment necessary to fight coronavirus, they also got 1 million dollar from USA. Other than this government also received donation from famous Chinese businessman Jack Ma. After all these heavy donations why government is still failing to provide PPEs to the doctors? This is significantly important question which needs to be addressed by the health department as it is their duty to provide their workers with proper supplies. It is observed that politicians and beaurocrates are often seeing wearing N-95 mask while in meetings and visits while health professional are facing a dire shortage of these masks.

There are several pictures of doctors treating patients without any equipment which got viral on the social media. Can a country send their soldiers on the border to fight enemy without any gun, weapon or other equipment? Obviously not at all then why is our health department  is not considering and demanding doctors to treat corona patients without PPEs no doubt corona is far more dangerous enemy which can’t even be seen.

Here are some more reviews of doctor fighting this pandemic without proper facilities.

Younas Elahi working in the hospital of Quetta said that doctors are killing themselves by taking care of patients without personal protective equipment kit. He added, we are so vulnerable and it makes me cry when I see patients begging for help when doctors can’t even touch that.

This is not only a story of one doctors every doctor, nurse, paramedic are risking their lives to save others. They have been away from homes, families to serve the nation. Slogan of frontline workers from all over the globe “We stay here for you please stay home for us” has deep meaning. They also have families whom they are desperately waiting to meet when all mess will be over. We should support them and should raise voice for them on every possible platform.

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