Fighting unarmed

Our doctors and paramedics are rendering a great sacrifice by confronting a potential killer literally unarmed

Editorial April 08, 2020
A third doctor has lost his life fighting the Covid-19 coronavirus in Pakistan, on Monday. The day Dr Abdul Qadir Soomro, 70, succumbed to the deadly infection at a hospital in Karachi was the day that witnessed young members of his fraternity getting a baton-beating from the police some 700 km away, in Quetta. Not just that, dozens belonging to this valiant community, including doctors and paramedics, were stuffed into police vans and thrown in the lockup, as if criminals. Their fault? They were protesting against the unavailability of personal protective equipment in Balochistan hospitals — just as in many other parts of the country — in the wake of more than a dozen of their Quetta fellows contracting the lethal virus potentially because of being ill-equipped.

There have been reports of several other doctors elsewhere in the country falling sick with Covid-19, raising genuine safety concerns among health professionals who have been fighting the pandemic on the frontline. Nurses in various Sindh hospitals are also reportedly working while wearing black arm bands in protest against the non-provision of personal protective gear. Only recently, the Pakistan Medical Association also called upon the government to adequately equip the doctors and paramedics serving in isolation wards for coronavirus patients. And with such calls falling on deaf ears, those serving in corona wards in Quetta hospitals were forced to come out on a protest.

But instead of paying attention to their justified demand, these frontline fighters were treated with batons and threatened with police cases — in what shows the seriousness of the authorities to deal with a crisis that has wreaked havoc with almost every aspect of life even in the most advanced countries of the world. Our doctors and paramedics are rendering a great sacrifice by confronting a potential killer literally unarmed. Time to pay attention to their plight.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2020.

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