In the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, one thing that cannot be compromised on, at any cost, is the safety of our doctors and paramedics. But while these valiant fighters need to the armed to the teeth, we continue to force them — well, many of them — on to the front lines ill-equipped. It was not until dozens of doctors staged a protest in Quetta, last week, that they and their colleagues were provided with personal protective gear — and mind you, they were attended to by the military. The protesting doctors had claimed that dozens of doctors in the various Quetta hospitals had contracted the lethal virus due to the unavailability of protective gears that include face masks, hand gloves and protective suits.
Still, medical practitioners in the country continue to be infected with the coronavirus potentially because of being ill-equipped — not to forget that two doctors had lost their lives fighting the deadly contagion. Nine doctors fell sick with the virus in a single day, on Tuesday, at Multan’s Nishter Hospital. This takes the total number of corona-infected healthcare professional at the same hospital to 33, including 26 doctors and 7 paramedics. In Karachi too, the number of healthcare workers so far affected by the microbe has exceeded three dozens.
Even before the Quetta protest, the Pakistan Medical Association had called upon the government to properly equip the medical staff serving in isolation wards for coronavirus patients. But these calls continue to fall on deaf ears. So much so that even the N-95 masks — those that have been recommended by the WHO — are not available for all doctors in the country, many of whom have to do with the less protective surgical or cloth masks. The speaks ill of the seriousness of the authorities to cater to the requirements of those with whose help and services, we want to conquer a virus that has brought the whole world on its knees.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2020.
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