Listen to the doctors

 
April 07, 2020

While the world over, governments and people alike are appreciating and clapping for medical staff, in Pakistan these saviours are left to treat patients of coronavirus without the required personal...

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While the world over, governments and people alike are appreciating and clapping for medical staff, in Pakistan these saviours are left to treat patients of coronavirus without the required personal protective equipment (PPE) and when they protest they get arrested. There is an acute shortage of protective gear across the country but in Balochistan the situation appears to be even more alarming. Which is why doctors and paramedics in Balochistan have been protesting. Yesterday, in what can only be condemned unequivocally, the police first baton charged and then arrested the protesting doctors and medical staff. This is not the first time our healthcare workers have raised a voice and demanded this necessary equipment; and in Balochistan, they have been voicing their concerns right from the onset of the virus. Under these circumstances, they have said they have few options but to protest. They are already at the forefront of this battle and putting their lives at stake. When the government fails to respond to their needs, doctors and healthcare workers will resort to peaceful protests. Such protests should never be met with violence and vengeance.

According to the Young Doctors Association, over 150 doctors and paramedics have been arrested. When the country is under a serious threat of a rapidly spreading pandemic, we need to treat our saviours with dignity and respect. In their protection lies the safety of the entire nation. In this pandemic, nobody is out of danger whether minion or minister. When we fall victim to this virus or any other disease for that matter, these are the very same doctors and nurses who come to our rescue. If doctors and other medical staff protest we need to listen to them and rectify their concerns by providing them with what they need. No heavy-handedness should be tolerated at this stage. There are reports that dozens of doctors have contracted the virus in the absence of PPE while performing their duties. If more medical staff fall sick that will be a disaster not only for them but also for the rest of us.

As the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is responsible for the distribution and procurement of the PPE that arrived in the country, it must give an exact account of where the PPE kits are. We need a transparent approach in this matter, and a detailed breakdown of how many PPE kits were distributed, and where, should be made public. This is not a time to play games. We must do everything possible to safeguard our doctors and paramedical staff. This is not a fight anyone should have to fight. And even the thought of arresting our healthcare personnel at this time – doctors, nurses, paramedics – should be condemned across the board.



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